cover image Touch and Go: Travels of a Children's Book Illustrator

Touch and Go: Travels of a Children's Book Illustrator

Ted Lewin. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14109-7

In an introductory note to this aptly titled travel memoir, Lewin comments that his journeys to various countries have inspired many of his children's books. He adds that ""often some of my most memorable travel moments--my brief acquaintances with people along the way--don't fit into a thirty-two-page picture-book story."" Such individuals are the subjects of these 33 vignettes of varying length and substance, set in locations as diverse as Botswana, Alaska, the Gal pagos Islands (the setting for his Nilo and the Tortoise, reviewed above), Nepal, Australia and Brazil. Lewin tells of an elderly Berber man whom he watched saddle his donkey in Morocco (""I watched each step carefully; he ignored me just as carefully""); a humorous tale of a friendly Egyptian guide who brings the author to a densely crowded camel market; and a trusting boy in the Amazon jungle who invites Lewin to hold his three-toed sloth, her baby hanging from her neck. Though the raconteur reveals an easygoing writing style, both succinct and graphic, a number of his entries fall flat, lacking context or apparent significance. Since Lewin's primary focus is on adults, this is the audience most likely to appreciate his impressionistic travelogues. A center signature collects two dozen superb photos shot by Lewin (including the Berber man mounting his donkey), as well as several stunning watercolors which display his signature photographic-quality crispness. Ages 9-up. (May)