That’s it. With this new book, I’m going to automatically be a fan of anything published by the talented Shannon Laskey. The author of a book series called “Going to…” guides, Laskey is also the illustrator, and it’s her artwork that is so eye-catching and makes her books so special.
I’ve previously reviewed her Going to Disneyland book, which is very much worth your time. She’s back with a new one, Going to Disney California Adventure ($23 on Amazon), that keeps much of the same formula that made the first book work.
It’s not a photo-heavy book so much as a volume filled with full-color illustrations. It’s written for a target audience of children, so there are basic explanations of rides, shows, and attractions, and some minor historical notes here and there, but mostly it’s not about the information.
The illustrations come in different styles. My favorite is a Japanese manga-style (round heads, big identical grins, eyes screwed shut with joy) as applied to Disney characters, even in-park characters. It’s cute in a way that’s not overpowering–every bit as successful as Mary Blair’s Small World creations, in my opinion.
Every page of the book is different. Sometimes you’ll find little games (“guess what style of architecture is in San Francisco?”), or a timeline of park history in this location. Many of the games are like little board games right there in the book, or leaving blank panels for the reader to create a comic strip. In many ways, it’s more of a game book than a guide book.
I know it’s meant for kids, but I just love the heck out of this format and the cuteness of the presentation. I’d never do any of the games myself (I keep my books pristine!) but there’s clearly an optimal age for kids where this kind of book is perfect to build expectation for that coming trip (or to hold them over until next year’s trip). The author suggests grades K-5 is ideal.
To give you an idea of what’s in the book, here are four consecutive pages chosen at random (apologies for the shadows and low-res):