Inspired by actual family travels, Kellie McIntyre’s The Passport Project follows the adventures of a five-month international family trip with ebullience.
Sisters Delaney and Riley are going into the seventh and eighth grades. They are initially reluctant to take the trip with their parents. Still, they blog about it, revealing factors like the educational benefits of trekking on a budget. They see Iceland’s geothermal pools and visit the Harry Potter set in London; they eat gelato and face scammers in Italy. Stops in Sri Lanka and Australia are also included. Throughout, cultural and regional history facts are shared alongside charming hand-drawn maps.
Riley and Delaney’s entertaining travelogue is complemented by photographs of its scenes; the sisters share travel advice on topics ranging from how to pack to international exchange rates. Their entries are sympathetic in depicting the agonies and delights that surround them. They have individualized reactions to their circumstances: Delaney at first thinks of her parents’ wanderlust as an imposition, while Riley is excited, though concerned about the details of homeschooling while abroad.
While Delaney and Riley are positive guides, they are also frank about their accommodations and minor travails, including illnesses and misunderstandings. They are sometimes self-conscious about interacting with other cultures, but they learn to adapt. And they have a family tradition of listing the highs and lows that accompany their experiences, which leads to bonding. The girls become more grateful for the trip as it stretches on, while their flashbacks to prior trips, including to Panama and Thailand, amplify their spirited approach to unfamiliar situations.
Authentic in its coverage of what it’s like to leave home for extended periods of time, The Passport Project is an enticing global travelogue led by teenagers whose enthusiasm and thoughtfulness make it instructive.
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