Young Beauregard dreams of seeing the world but is afraid of air and ocean travel, in this rhyming picture book
He solves his problem by mailing himself in a big box to Finland, then Bali, and then Australia. Unfortunately, awkward text distracts from his adventure with an overuse of exclamation points and language that sounds forced to make the facile rhyming work. Mailing May, by Michael O. Tunnell (1997), is a more engaging, even true story of a child actually traveling in a mailed box. Maybe that’s not the point; Beauregard’s adventures could conceivably entertain and pique interest in these countries—although there’s not enough information to make this work, either. For example, young American readers aren’t likely to know a “didgeridoo” is not an animal but rather a musical instrument considered sacred in Aboriginal culture, but it’s included in a list of Australian fauna (“roos, / koalas, wallabies, didgeridoos”). Bassani’s colorful illustrations outlined in thin black line contain potentially interesting information; spreads reminiscent of tourist postcards feature icons for cultural or physical aspects of the nation placed on a map, but there are no details about the places and artifacts. The choice to portray Beauregard—a child from Alabama who has the same name as a Confederate general—as African-American is either cleverly subversive or simply uninformed.
A kid traveling around the world in a box could be an imaginative premise for learning about various countries and cultures, but it’s not sufficiently fleshed out here. (Picture book. 4-7)