Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Journeys: Tales of Travel and Trailblazers

Journeys: Tales of Travel and Trailblazers

Jonathan Litton
Illustrator:  Chris Chalik , Dave Shephard , Jon Davis , Leo Hartas 
For ages 8 and up
360 Degrees, 2018   ISBN: 978-1944530136

Early hunter gatherers used to have to travel every day to find food. The interesting thing is that even after man settled down to cultivate land and built towns and cities, the urge to travel did not go away. Quite the contrary; men set off on foot, on horseback, and in ships to travel all over the globe to see what lay beyond the borders of their own territories. Even after the land on our planet was mapped, humans kept on looking for new places to explore, new environments to discover, and new challenges to conquer. In this beautiful book the author and illustrators tell the stories of “of dreamers and doers, and they share the wonderful tales that these explorers “brought back from faraway lands.”

The stories in this book are divided up into four sections. The first section looks at those intrepid explorers who set out in ships and on rafts across water to seek out new lands. Some of the most extraordinary ocean going travelers were the Polynesian explorers who left their homes to seek out new islands to settle. They even traveled across open ocean for two thousand miles to settle the Hawaiian Islands. Using only the sun, moon, and stars and the movements of birds, fish, whales, and dolphins, they crossed huge expanses of ocean, not knowing if anything lay ahead of them.

The second section in this beautiful book tells the stories of the men and women who crossed deserts, mountains, swamps and other inhospitable land-based areas to seek out new countries. Sometimes these people went bent on conquest. One such person was Hannibal. Born and raised in the North African city of Carthage, Hannibal was a wily general who decided to attack Rome from the north. This meant crossing the might Alps, and this was Hannibal did with 40,000 men, 8,000 horses and 40 war elephants. Unfortunately his losses on the journey were so severe that he did not manage to take Rome. He did however show the Romans that “almost anything was possible.”

There are certain explorers who are naturally drawn to visiting lands where “Ice and Snow” hold sway. The third section in this book contains the stories of these people. There were the people like John Franklin who sought of the Northwest passage, and others like Roald Amundsen and Captain Robert Falcon Scott who were determined to be the first people to get to the South Pole. With his team of strong men and sled dogs, Roald Amundsen was the winner in this race, and Captain Scott’s team tragically died in the attempt.

Finally there are the adventurers who used new technologies to go higher, faster, and further. There were drivers who broke speed records on land, and pilots who flew across the Atlantic and then around the world. Nellie Bly managed to go around the world in just seventy-two days using a variety of vehicles. Then there were the daring men and women who set their sights on space.

This book is packed with incredible stories about singular people. The narratives are accompanied by marvelous illustrations and maps. This is the kind of book readers of all ages will enjoy; it is the kind of book readers can dip into or read from cover to cover.