________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 29. . . .April 2, 2010.


Junior Jetsetters Guide to Vancouver.

Pedro F. Marcelino & Slawko Waschuk. Illustrated by Tapan Gandhi & Ran Kim.
Toronto, ON: Junior Jetsetters Publishing (Distributed by Fitzhenry & Whiteside), 2010.
153 pp., pbk., $15.95.
ISBN 978-0-9784601-5-0.

Subject Heading:
Vancouver (B.C.)-Guidebooks-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-9 / Ages 9-14.

Review by Keith McPherson.




During the 1950’s, Vancouver had a lot of neon signs. It may be hard to believe, but at one time, it had more neon signs than Las Vegas!

The Junior Jetsetters Guide to Vancouver is a travel guidebook aimed at later intermediate and middle school students wishing to learn more about the city of Vancouver, BC, Canada. However, these students might want to just tuck this very visually appealing and factually intriguing volume away from parents’ prying eyes as it may very well spend more time on their parents’ bedside table and in their parents’ jacket pockets, than in the students’ knapsacks.

     This Junior Jetsetters Guide to Vancouver follows directly in the path of previous Jetsetter publications as reviewed by CM magazine’s reviewer, Ketcheson, in June 2009 (see: http://umanitoba.ca/cm/vol15/no21/juniorjetsettersguidetochicago.html). That is, like the Junior Jetsetter volumes on Chicago, Amsterdam, and Paris, the information and visuals in this publication are:

1 current, dynamic, colourful and engaging,
2 the layout is crisp and easy to use when locating information,
3 the pages contain ‘hip’ cartoons and information that would engage preteens,
4 and the content is laced with often original and very interesting ideas (I didn’t know at one time Vancouver had more neon signs that Las Vegas – and Vancouver has been my home since 1971!).

     Although this volume does not contain an index, it does contain a table of contents that divides the guide’s content up into five major sections. And each of these sections is designed with colour coded ‘tabs’ that can be easily thumbed through when locating information. The first section contains transit maps and a brief history of Vancouver. The second lists the top five things to do in Vancouver (many of which I send visitors to do when they are visiting Vancouver). The third is a list of Vancouver’s next 28 most popular attractions. The fourth lists 11 fun activities for children (although many are just as much fun for adults), and the fifth contains a variety of popular attractions and activities that lie just outside of the Vancouver city core, but which tourists can easily access. In short, there is enough well organized information in this publication to keep a family busy on a daily basis, from dawn to dusk, for at least two months.

     The book is a durable pocket-sized soft-cover publication that can take a bit of bending and stuffing into travel bags and knapsacks. The binding is sturdy and contains thick endpapers with maps of the Vancouver city core and outlying areas. Anyone traveling by car or transit in Vancouver should be well aware that the Jetsetter’s maps give little detail and thus must be supplemented with a much larger foldable map showing much more detailed road and transit routes.

     Being a long-time resident of Vancouver, and having annually taken my own children to many of these listed attractions, I can vouch for the authenticity and credibility of this guide’s information. Not once did I find myself contradicting the guide’s content (I read this book cover to cover) and the visuals directly correlated to the text on the page. If I had one gripe about this book though, it would be that some of the pictures were too small. However, remember, that (in my opinion) even a full size coffee table photo journal of Vancouver would fall short of the blue-towering mountains that frame the city.

     The travel guide also contains a segment at the back of the book for parents. This section lists information (e.g., phone numbers, addresses, and entrance fees) about key attractions covered in the guide. It is important to note that some of these costs increased drastically in preparation of the 2010 winter Olympics, and there is some speculation that some of these costs may not return to pre-Olympic prices. Be warned and check pricing on the Internet. Furthermore, it is important to note that this section of the guide is very limited in its scope and thus does not provide detailed hotel and food accommodations paralleling that found in travel publications like Frommer’s, Fodors, and Lonely Planet.

     Although geared towards children, I truly believe that the fresh, crisp design of Junior Jetsetters Guide to Vancouver, and its intriguing and engaging content, will appeal to a wide range of travelers wishing to explore Vancouver’s main family-oriented attractions. Furthermore, I believe many families with children who are moving to Vancouver (or who are already living in Vancouver) may find that this guide could bring Vancouver to life in ways never before explored or imagined. Finally, I highly recommend regularly checking the Junior Jetsetters website for publications on other cities that you may be traveling to in the near future (http://www.juniorjetsetters.ca/#).

     Junior Jetsetters Guide to Vancouver is a publication that will help most elementary and middle school children more deeply engage in their explorations of Vancouver, BC. However, students be warned, parents will want to use it as much, if not more, as you!

Highly Recommended.

Keith McPherson has been a primary and elementary teacher and teacher-librarian in BC since 1984 and is currently a lecturer for the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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