‘Roads’ in children’s books

As I’m sure you’ll know, I have a particular interest in the representation of landscape in children’s books. Landscape tells you everything, and yet it’s often one of the more forgotten elements when people talk about a book. Consider the difference between the two sentences below.

The cat sat on the mat in a field.

The cat sat on the mat in the ocean.

Two entirely, viscerally different scenarios and all of that comes from adding a little bit of context. Location. Landscape. Setting.

I’ve been thinking about roads at the moment, and in particular stories where roads form a key point of the narrative. I don’t want books where roads appear in the background or as a vague element in the illustration, I want them to be centralised within the text. Characters, if you will, in their own right.

So this post is essentially to ask for some help! Do you know of any children’s books – picture book through to YA – that might fit the bill? If you do, please let me know in a comment below and I’ll collate the results into a reading list . Thank you!

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6 thoughts on “‘Roads’ in children’s books

  1. Most fantasy books have a map, and because they’re about journeys they include roads in all their variety. Tolkien’s two Middle Earth books (“The Road Goes Ever On”) obviously have them, though Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia seem more averse, if Pauline Baines’ maps are anything to go by.

    I had a quick look through the picture books we kept from when our kids were little — now available for grandkids — but couldn’t see anything where the road was king (or indeed queen). So I’ll just add a childhood classic, King Solomon’s Mines, written as a riposte to Treasure Island, where the ancient map shows the road to and back again from the mines later followed by Quatermain and his friends.

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