Attractions—and repulsions—to stifle the next “Are we there yet?” whine from the back seat.
National Geographic here comes to the rescue with roadside pleasures to fracture the tedium of long-distance car travel, though many of these sights will be destinations in themselves. Befitting geographers, this is an international selection, from Japan to New Zealand, southern Chile to central Alaska. And as befitting National Geographic, the photography takes pride of place, while the accompanying explanatory paragraphs could use a little less gee-whiz and a little more informational meat. In a collection of 125 roadside attractions aimed to satisfy many tastes, there inevitably will be handfuls that specific readers will find disturbing/demented/to-be-avoided-at-all-costs—“wacky” doesn’t begin to cover the array—while others might make a nifty day trip. Consider the classic-car junkyard in White, Georgia, or the Burlingame, California, Pez museum. There is an island of pigs (although its “roadside” credentials are suspect) and an absolutely beautiful arcade of trees for strolling in Klevan, Ukraine. (Time, place, and theaters of war should be considered when choosing when to visit.) There is the predictable Prada store sitting in the desert outside Marfa, Texas, some gross venues—the two-decker outhouse, the wall of chewed gum—and giant animals and mythic figures aplenty.
A grab bag for sure, but readers may find themselves angling to be in Budapest in April for its annual pillow fight. (Nonfiction. 8-12)