No Map, Great Trip: A Young Writer's Road to Page One
Acclaimed author Paul Fleischman considers how growing up with a father who was an award-winning author helped to shape and inspire his own career. Paul and Sid Fleischman are the only father-son Newbery Medalists in history, and life in the Fleischman home was extraordinary. Readers will feel like part of the family in this humorous and aspirational chronicle.
Paul Fleischman is the author of the Newbery Award-winning Joyful Noise and the classroom classic Seedfolks, as well as many other acclaimed and beloved titles. His books are taught and performed in classrooms across the country.
Part memoir, part travelogue (young Paul travels from California to New Hampshire by himself), part writing book, and part reflection on art and creativity, this inspirational book includes black-and-white photographs, as well as writing tips and prompts just right for budding authors. No Map, Great Trip is a great gift for young writers, language arts teachers, and fans of Jack Prelutsky’s Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry and Ralph Fletcher’s A Writer’s Notebook.
It was nice to read about Fleischman's travels and better understand how his experiences shaped his writing. The life lessons he learned along the way based on those experiences provided interesting perspectives through which to focus his writing and further engage with his craft. Readers of his work have surely enjoyed great books based on his fictionalized accounts of his true life story.
One of the lines that stood out to me in the book was about something Mark Twain once said. According to Fleischman, Twain said that “the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” The truth of this in terms of writing is overwhelmingly real. When one has an idea, even if just for one particular word, that one word or phrase or chapter can, subjectively, be what makes the writing inspirational or lacking in potential. It is quotes like this that the book provides as a source of inspiration. Every experience can be full of wonder and awe – one just has to look for it and know how to spot it. Once one does, it can be the beginning of something amazing, and this is what Fleischman has done with this book. He has made travel sound fun, and the prospect of writing seem not so difficult. However, the book seemed more geared toward older kids and adults than elementary or middle school aged kids, but it is isn't quite clear what age it is specifically targeting. Yet, part of the book's interest lies in the idea that anyone can write so long as they seek and find the inspiration.
On a final note, even though there will be photographs in the final copy of the book, my version was an advance copy and did not include these, so I cannot speak to them.