Story Box Diary: Gondolas, Ducks and Déjà Vu
In our latest guest blog post, travel blogger and mother Katie Gregory takes a look at this month’s Story Box (all about a globetrotting duck) along with her four-year-old son, who’s fresh from an adventure of his own…
We’ve just got back from a mini road-trip across Italy with our kids, aged two and four. Last month I wrote about my ancient GCSE in Italian, and I was once again reminded what a beautiful language it is – and how even the basics of a second language can make life so much easier when you’re away from home.
My son, who’s four, particularly loved trying out new words on ‘real’ people (I don’t count, apparently). He fell in love with Elena, the owner of the agriturismo we stayed at in Tuscany, and relished every opportunity to greet her, and anyone else who’d listen, with sing-song shouts of ‘ciao’ and ‘buongiorno’ throughout our stay.
Back home, and having also learnt a few French words from last month’s Story Box, he was excited to find this month’s tale was in a third language – Spanish – which is a new one to us. And when he flicked through and spotted a picture of a gondolier in Venice, that was it: this was officially the best story ever.
The Duck’s Journey
The Duck’s Journey follows the tale of Drake the duck, whose attempts to fly south for the winter are thwarted when – after hopping on every mode of public transport possible – he accidentally ends up in Russia. As you do.
With the Spanish words for things like car, boat, bus, train and ticket repeated throughout, the story is perfectly timed for kids heading off on a summer holiday in the next couple of months. As for us, it struck a chord right from the start – my two-year-old daughter had befriended a family of ducks when we visited Lake Garda, and both kids are now convinced that one of them must have been Drake.
From London to Russia
In the story, Drake manages to get all the way from Regent’s Park to Russia, after accidentally falling asleep on a bus and snoozing through half the trip. But it’s the part where he takes a gondola in Venice that hit home with us, because our own gondola ride was easily the highlight of our trip.
Admittedly, it cost a fortune, and we very nearly gave it a miss because it’s a bit of a tourist trap. But, if you’re ever in Venice with kids, I’d say ignore the naysayers and do it. I’ll always remember the look on their little faces as we sailed out of the narrow streets and into the wide, open waters of Venice’s Grand Canal.
Of course, Drake’s adventure is a tad more epic than ours. He ticks off a whole list of countries, and the repetition of travel-related words and phrases – as well as the games in the activity book – really helped to cement them in our minds. I had wondered if trying Spanish would be a step too far, but it actually got us talking about phrases that sounded really similar across languages, like ‘por favor’ and ‘per favore’.
Plus, the book has been requested as a bedtime story every night since it landed on our doorstep. Which at least means I’ll be able to navigate my way around Spain by the time next month’s box arrives…
You can read more about Katie’s travels on her blog, There We Go.