Travel is what many of us have missed the most since the onset of the pandemic. And while we might not quite be ready or able to book a flight to a far-flung locale, a new book lets kids (and kids of all ages) tap into that irresistible feeling of wanderlust.
Written by Alexandria-based father-son authors Sam and Angus Morrison, Backpacks and Baguettes: Coloring the World through Young Eyes follows the adventures of Sam, a half-British, half-American boy, as he encounters the food, culture and lives of children he meets, as well as street art from the places he’s walked. Readers can armchair travel to scenic destinations around the world through words, illustrations and coloring pages for each location with local artwork and activities.
“Everything about my life [growing up] in Paris and my travels influenced me–the people, the food, the street art, the languages,” Sam recalls. “I felt lucky and wanted to share my experience with other kids.” After returning to Alexandria, he and his dad Angus found themselves driving a nextdoor neighbor to Georgetown Hospital for his cancer treatment on the way to dropping off Sam at school; sadly that neighbor died earlier this year.
“We were three generations of men driving and telling stories in a car,” Angus (who goes by Dan) says. “I knew that if we didn’t capture the mind of a 12-year-old, it would soon fly away.”
The two have always had a close relationship; Dan says that since Sam is an only child he’s always ready to pack his passport and his bag, grab a map and embark on an adventure. “My dad and I kind of think the same way,” Sam says. “We agree more than we disagree [and] see the world in a similar way.”
Of course, writing a book together does bring with it some challenges, namely, remembering the details of the places they visited. But photos helped. The duo believe that the actual writing itself and the time spent together were rewarding, even irreplaceable. And Dan believes that the skills needed to write and promote a book–sticking with a project from beginning to end, public speaking, answering questions in full sentences and finding the right words–are all great lessons for a kid.
The two hope the reader will take away the notion that there is always a silver lining in life. Ironically, their silver lining is that the book’s launch was delayed because of the pandemic. “People have told us that reading it now has actually been helpful for reminding children what it was like to live in the world before Covid-19,” Dan says. “The sound of mopeds in Rome, the smell of chicken turning on a spit at a French market, a water fight in Bangkok, mushroom hunting in the hills of Tuscany, the feel of fog on your face in San Francisco bay–human contact.”
The title will be released October 6, 2020 and is available to pre-order on Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. You can also follow Sam’s adventures on Instagram @samrmorrison.
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