We often wonder how children see the world, but we don’t always remember to record it. A local child thought he should keep these memories.
Sam Morrison and his father Angus Morrison found they had to capture Sam’s then 11-year-old perspective of his travels when carpooling with one of their older neighbors.
“We spent a year in the car with three generations of men,” said Angus. “Drive around together and tell stories. And Sam said something one day and I thought, “Geez, if we don’t try to get what is in an 11- and 12-year-old’s brain, it’s going to fly away pretty quickly.”
Sam and his father had the idea to write a book about their travels together. After a year and a half of writing, they finished a children’s book, Backpacks and Baguettes: Coloring the World with Young Eyes, which came out in October.
“I think the book was the best way to put it all together,” said Sam.
The book is divided into chapters, with each chapter focusing on a different location that Sam visited. Each chapter focuses on Sam’s experiences in a destination, the food they ate, and the experiences of the children there.
The book describes Sam’s memories of traveling across four continents, describes what he saw, smelled, touched and tasted, and really gave people a sense of what the experience was like. At a time when humans cannot travel, Angus saw the power of these descriptions.
“It was really interesting to get feedback from people who said, ‘More than ever, it’s really interesting to read this book because it reminds me of what it was like to be out in the world.'”
Although Angus experienced the same things as his son, it was interesting for him to see how Sam perceived things. He remembers how Sam noticed that Arabic sounded very different from any other foreign language he’d heard before, or how Sam understood the simple act of crossing the street in Vietnam.
To be fair, crossing the street in Vietnam can be intimidating. The mopeds and cars don’t stop for pedestrians as they do here, but you have to step confidently into the traffic as it flows around you.
Both Sam and his father enjoy the food, so it was clear to them that it contained descriptions of the food they ate. Sam also saw that children’s desires were different and yet the same everywhere, so it only made sense for them to include those children’s experiences in the book.
He has visited some places several times and others only once, but with each place he always learned something new.
“He would ask, ‘Why are you doing this?'” Angus said. “Just like a child would.”
Angus recalls how Sam learned in Sir Lanka that people shake their heads to mean “yes” instead of “no”.
To help other children learn, a few questions are listed at the beginning of each chapter. The intent is for friends and family to ask each other about this place.
Another interactive element of the book are images of street art and graffiti that have been left blank for coloring. To help them write the book, Sam and Angus consulted photos they had taken on each trip. Looking through these photos, they realized they had so many pictures of street art and it was more interesting than any postcard.
“It’s a lot more real from this place because there is actually a person who does graffiti,” Angus recalls when Sam told him.
As well as teaching kids about the world, Sam hopes that one day they’ll go out and travel.
“I hope this encourages people to travel the world,” said Sam.
You can order their book here, listen to them share their adventures on their podcast, and keep following Sam’s future adventures on his Instagram.