Monday, July 9, 2012

The Grand Canyon by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by John Wallace

 The Grand Canyon by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by John Wallace

Rating: 3.5 stars

I'm an Army brat.  I grew up all over the place, and am fortunate to not only have seen a bunch of places in our country, but also to have lived there, and gotten to know the place.  There are only four states I've not visited: Alaska, Maine, Rhode Island, and New Mexico.  Any sympathy you might have for me will evaporate when I tell you that my father's overseas tour was in Hawaii.  I spent three years of my life shored up on Oahu, visiting neighbor islands for a few days here and there, hula-ing my way through my middle years.  It was rough...the sunburns and all.

My parents didn't have a ton of money for vacations, and we drove everywhere we needed or wanted to go.  We saw and did a lot, but...we never got to the Grand Canyon.  It is a place that I've always wanted to see, a place I've been curious about and dreamt about for decades.  I have dreams of running it--R2R2R they call it, rim to rim to rim.  I'm a big outdoorsy person and feel more comfortable in running shoes than heels, happier dusty than all dolled up.  And lately I've been really jonesing for a long hike.

Enter a short trip, sans kids, to Vegas.  Not exactly my style, but fun in its own way and a much-needed getaway.  During it, my husband surprised me with a short trip to the Grand Canyon.  I was so surprised and excited!  We took a short ride there and spent an even shorter but very calming 15 minutes in the Canyon.  It was more than I expected and I wanted hours to take in its hues, quiet-ness, and history.  I couldn't, so I had to be grateful for the little visit.  I'd like to go back.  Like, tomorrow.
Me, happy and awestruck, at the Grand Canyon.

Upon return to reality here in Virginia, I was very grateful that Lorelei and Ben and I had read this book together a few months ago.  They knew exactly what I was talking about when I said that we visited the Grand Canyon.  This book is part of a series of books that all kids should read.  They are not phenomenal literary works--the writing is not outstanding, the stories are not witty, the illustrations won't blow you away.  But they teach my kids about our country, and many of the great places that is packed in it.

In this series, there are books about Yellowstone, Niagra Falls, Mount Rushmore, The Statue of Liberty, the Rocky Mountains, the Mississippi.  We've read most of them--I discovered them last summer while preparing our kids to go to Colorado for a heavenly vacation within and around the Rockies.  It's important stuff, this teaching-of-America thing.  Lorelei and Ben and certainly Kiefer are too young to appreciate democracy and free choice and our relative affluence compared to the world...but they are not too young to start locating spots on the map and making lists of places we should visit together.

And they're not too young to appreciate beauty, and the awesomeness of a place like the Grand Canyon.  In fact, it's my own child-like awe of the place that makes me teach them about it.  I hope that when they are in their mid-thirties, they are awestruck by things big and small, too.

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