Sunday, May 28, 2006

You Can Never Find A Rickshaw When It Monsoons

You Can Never Find A Rickshaw When It Monsoons: The World On One Cartoon A Day by Mo Willems

After he graduated from college in 1990, Mo Willems took a year to tour the world; this was a low-key, not much money, backpack and few showers tour. While sometimes he went where the tourists go, he was also just as interested in hitch-hiking to places where he was the only traveler. It's like the Amazing Race, without the race.

Mo didn't keep a traditional journal; instead, each day he drew a cartoon about something that caught his fancy. These were rarely "tourist" things, but rather slices of life; a peek at the differences in people and lives and culture. And sometimes, a peek at himself during his travels. It's about observing ourselves and others.

This is a book for the grown-ups; with an adult perspective and outlook. (In other words, don't think "oh Mo does those cute picture books of pigeons and bunnies, so it's OK for my 2nd grader to read this." No, no, it isn't. No matter how advanced he is. Well, OK, if you read it first and decide it is OK, then it is, that's your choice; but don't assume that because Mo writes picture books, that everything he ever does is at the picture book level.) (Sorry for the mini rant, but one of my pet peeves is the assumption by people that if an author wrote x at a young readers level, all that the author wrote is for that young readers level, and then they get all angry and huffy when that isn't true.)

It's funny, insightful, and a quick read. It's also a way for those who don't have the time, money, or confidence to take such a trip to experience such a trip (time = Mo took a whole year off to do this tour; money = even tho this wasn't the Paris Hilton world tour (Mo had one pair of pants! One!), still, even the most frugal around the world hitch hiking tour takes money), and confidence (this wasn't Mo's first trip abroad, so in some ways he had the experience to make this solo trip doable; and neither at 21 nor now would I ever think about doing what he did alone. I read too many true-crime books.)

There is the familiar and the new; and I think anyone who has ever traveled, whether at home or abroad, whether for a week or a year, will nod their heads in recognition.

An interview with Mo Willems at Drawn; how funny, Fuse #8 also posted about this today!

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