Vaughan, Marcia and Richard Vaughan
Reviewed by Alison Mews
Reviewed by Alison Mews
Volume 22 Number 6
Bon Voyage! is an imaginative story of two resourceful children who are determined to earn enough money ($6.75) to buy an old red wagon. They organize a backyard business, "Thrill Seekers Travel Agency," and offer exciting tours of exotic places for a mere 50 cents (insurance 5 cents extra).
The camel ride in Egypt (on a wooden horse through the sandbox), the Hawaii holiday (on a surfboard in the wading pool), and the bullfight in Spain, complete with red cape and "bull" (a friendly dog with horns tied around his head), were all enjoyed by the neighborhood children. Other adventurous attempts, such as the balloon ride (a laundry basket with birthday balloons tied on it) for acrophobic Madeline and the leaning tower of pizza, which collapsed on Anastasia's head, were unfortunate enterprises.
The premise of this picture-book is a good one, but I had some problem with the execution. There is little lead-up to the adventures themselves, and each double-page spread is a different "tour," so there is little development of the concept. You don't see the children preparing the backdrops or setting up the adventures, and the illustrations are presented fairly close-up, so it isn't always obvious to the picture-book audience how these tours are arranged.
With regard to the audience, it is obvious from the large full-colour pictures and text of one to two lines per double page that the book is aimed at ages three to seven, as the promotional material suggests. However, very young children have little concept of the world at large, and I wonder how many would appreciate the humour in the Leaning Tower of Pisa being constructed of pizza boxes, or the parody of King Doggo's cave with its canine hieroglyphics. Older children would certainly catch on, but they would probably consider the format too puerile.
The illustrations certainly capture the exaggerated and exuberant tone of the story, but I found the faces somewhat disturbing, with the placement of nose and mouth adjacent to each other on the bottom portion of the face. The faces were actually very cartoonlike and surprisingly expressive, considering the eyes were generally black dots.
I find it difficult to recommend this collaboration.
Alison Mews is Co-ordinator, Centre for Instructional Services, in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, Newfoundland
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