A journey requires something special of the participant. Separated from the familiarity and habits of home life, a person on a journey generally finds that the things that can’t be left behind — all the fears and doubts and weaknesses and, yes, strengths and joys and passions — come into sharper focus. The characters in this week’s Ten set out for various reasons, but each is faced with him or herself. What they learn about themselves, and what they do with that information, is a big part of what makes each story worth reading.
The Moon by Night by Madeleine L’Engle
Before they move to the city for a year for their father’s research, the Austin family spends the summer camping their way across the United States, offering both a bonding time for the family, and something of a journey of self discovery for the protagonist, fourteen-year-old Vicky.
Takeoffs and Landings by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Since their father’s accidental death, Chuck and Lori’s mother has been travelling the US as a motivational speaker, sharing her family’s tragedy with others. Chuck and Lori, however, have learned to handle their own responses to the loss individually, and as a result have grown away from one another and from their mother. In Takeoffs and Landings, they are invited to go with their mother on her next tour. Though the trip is intended to bring the family back together, it ends up doing a lot more to heal the pain and guilt that each has been suffering alone.
Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Following the unexpected death of her flighty aunt, Ginny receives a package with thirteen numbered envelopes. Instructed to open each envelope only after she has completed the task described in the one before it, Ginny finds herself off on a mystery trip across Europe, trying to discover, as she goes, what really happened to her aunt.
The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers
A little boy finds himself stranded on the moon, and has to work with a new friend to fix his aeroplane and get himself back home.
Devil on My Back by Monica Hughes
Just after he receives the computer implants that will allow him to take his place as an adult in his community, Tomi gets caught in a slave revolt and is accidentally ejected from the facility that has for generations kept his people safe from the world outside. When he discovers a village of escaped slaves thriving in this “hostile” outside world, Tomi is startled — and suspicious — but finds that they know far more about his home than he has ever been told.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
Bilbo Baggins lives in a culture that emphasises homely comforts, and he’s content with that…mostly. Then the wizard Gandalf volunteers him to join a group of dwarves determined to reclaim their ancestral treasure, stolen by the dragon Smaug, and Bilbo discovers that there’s a lot more to him than a well-appointed Hobbit hole.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
When his room turns into a forest and presents him with a little boat, Max travels across the sea to an island full of monsters. The monsters make him their king, and Max enjoys being in charge for awhile, but soon decides that home has more to offer than he’d thought.
Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart
Eager to reunite for a promised adventure, the children of the Mysterious Benedict Society discover too late that their mentor, Mr. Benedict, has gone missing, and that they are in great danger. Drawing on what each learned about him- or herself in The Mysterious Benedict Society, the kids travel from port to port, following the clues Mr. Benedict has left for them in hopes of finding and rescuing their friend.
Adam of the Road by written by Elizabeth Janet Gray and illustrated by Robert Lawson
Set in England in the thirteenth century, this appealing and well-researched story follows both Adam’s training as a minstrel and his search for his missing father. Although this is an older book (originally published in 1943), it has been reissued and is still readily available.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
When the ship that was supposed to take Pi and his family to a new home in Canada sinks, Pi is left to fend for himself with only a lifeboat and a huge Bengal tiger named Richard Parker to help him finish his journey across the Atlantic Ocean. A survival manual, plenty of experience with zoos, and a deep (if complicated) faith sustain him in a fantastic, yet strangely believable, story.