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To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People, One True Story

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  369 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
Casey and Steven met in Morocco, moved to China then went all the way to Timbuktu. This illustrated travel memoir tells the story of their first two years out of college spent teaching English, making friends across language barriers, researching, painting, and learning to be themselves wherever they are.
Paperback, 496 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Roaring Brook Press
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Mar 16, 2011 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Travel, romance and finding oneself are what makes this book irresistible. Casey and Steven met in Morocco, had a long distance relationship across the US, and then moved together to China and eventually Mali. This book celebrates taking leaps of faith with one another, experiencing life to the fullest, embracing different cultures, and just being entirely human in the process. Come spend a year with an engaging couple who teach, write, draw, and inspire.

Scieszka’s writing is frank and inviting.
Doug Beatty
Nov 10, 2011 Doug Beatty rated it did not like it
I am having a huge problem with this book. It seems to be marketed to teens, and in the library where I got the book, it is clearly part of the teen collection. The Two main characters are out of college, and are spending a lot of time talking about grants and fullbright scholarships, and almost nothing that would have interested me when I was a teen. Heck, it hardly interests me now. The book is nearly five hundred pages so you can imagine...

The book features artwork by Steven Weinberg, but it
Andy Shuping
Aug 23, 2011 Andy Shuping rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Casey and Steven were college students at opposite ends of the country, one in California and one in Maine. Yet, they happened to meet in Morocco during a study abroad trip. And they decided to keep in touch...and then they decided to move to China and teach English and then head out across the world together. Crazy where the world and life takes you huh? While traveling they fall in love with each other even more, find out about life and the world, and maybe make a few friends along the way (ev ...more
May 22, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
Shelves: china, biography, africa
I think this book is going to make me want to travel even worse but gotta love it!
I loved reading the author's travels. So many times I heard myself agreeing and relating to their feelings when traveling. I wish I had written this book about my experiences in Indonesia. It was wonderful.
Diane Ferbrache
Casey and Steven are a young couple on an adventure. They met while studying abroad in college in Morocco and have embarked on a trip that takes them from Brooklyn to Beijing to Mali to Timbuktu. Along the way they meet loads of interesting people and have the experience of a lifetime. This is their journal/memoir/scrapbook. It's funny, scary, exasperating and grandly illustrated by Steven's pencil sketches.

Their first stop to teach English in Beijing starts off a bit rough -- their assignment i
Lacey Louwagie
Sep 01, 2011 Lacey Louwagie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who dream of traveling
Recommended to Lacey by: Booklist or School Library Journal
This book is basically a combination graphic novel/journal/travelogue/memoir of a new relationship. Any of those elements alone wouldn't have been enough to make me pick it up, but with all of them thrown together, I was too intrigued to resist.

Essentially, a couple who met when they studied abroad and maintained a very long-distance (separate coasts) relationship for a year decided to spend two years together traveling through Asia and Africa. They documented the experience through writing (her
Yoo Kyung Sung
Nov 05, 2011 Yoo Kyung Sung rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ncbla
One of the few books that tells authentic international and cultural experiences that can have us to think about global English education.. So real and reflectively portraying English language teachers experience in global communities. The relationship of CAsey and Steven makes thief journey engaging and real. Majority American readers will have better insights about living in foreign countries as English language teachers which are often nicknamed as linguistic prostitutions among the English e ...more
Nov 22, 2010 Nick rated it really liked it
This review is based on an advance copy.
The blend of physical and personal journey narrative kept me riveted. I was mildly disappointed by the actual events in the Timbuktu section...I had been looking forward to that part for many pages, but that was, in fact, one of the less interesting parts of the book. The details in the sections on other parts of Africa, or their adventures as teachers in China, were so much richer that the Timbuktu section suffered by comparison.
Overall, the interactions
Pyone Lei Lei Mon
It's a fun read with cool illustrations.
Dec 12, 2011 Tasara rated it did not like it
Shelves: graphic
Kind of like reading somebody's study abroad (Goshen College SST) journal they are doing for 3 credits of Gen Ed. Kind of interesting, but kind of tiring reading about first-world problems of not being able to connect or make friends, being asked for money, etc. after visiting (or "living" as they call it) in places where lots of travelers/Peace Corps workers/volunteers pass through. But funny enough, Casey is obviously Jon Scieszka's daughter! There should be more jokes!
I want to do a more complete review on my blog; so more to come.
Really enjoyable read. I found Casey's voice genuine, fun and appealing and I like her even though she doesn't like Harry Potter! (and I don't really care for the Stupids -- gasp!) Steven's drawings are equally appealing. A great travelogue -- definite teen appeal I think.

I'd love a recipe for some of the dishes -- especially the Chinese eggplant.

Do Casey and Steven do Skype visits???
Apr 09, 2011 Ramarie rated it liked it
A travelogue written by the daughter of Jon Scieszka and illustrated by her boyfriend, Steven. They travel together to China to teach English, visit several East Asian countries, study and live in Mali. It's heavily illustrated by Steven, and written as 1-3 page snapshots of their experiences. A leisurely read, but no less enjoyable for it.
May 16, 2011 GraceAnne rated it really liked it
This is just delightful. Casey is so open, so stream -of-consciousness, so utterly in the moment and yet thoughtful, and Steven's pictures form an evocative and often amusing counterpoint and commentary. They were wonderful companions to share their journey, with each other and with readers.
Aug 09, 2013 Krista rated it really liked it
A really enjoyable story of two young people traveling the world, and finding themselves - and each other - as they seek to learn and do good in Asia and Africa. Steven's illustrations complement Casey's text well.
Dawn Ryan
Sep 14, 2010 Dawn Ryan rated it it was amazing
An adventurous and relevant true story about recent college grads, in love, who want to travel the world and make art. The graphic novel illustrations are fun and collaborative. What could be better?
Edward Sullivan
Aug 14, 2014 Edward Sullivan rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs, travel
This travelogue/memoir could be a lot more interesting and insightful than it is. The narrative is more engaging once they get to Mali, but that is more than halfway into the book.
I was super excited about this book, and I'm sure it's great and all, but the tone is a little too manic and disjointed for me right now.
Anna K.
Nov 03, 2015 Anna K. rated it liked it
I liked it. A very interesting story of two college kids going to foreign countries to learn something about the world and about themselves. Certainly I found their insights and perspectives on China and Mali interesting. That is the nice thing about reading -- it can take you places you've never been, or have no plans to visit and make you feel as if you are experiencing what they are experiencing. The only thing I'd have liked is an epilogue. I understand this was their story of certain period ...more
Mar 26, 2011 Mindy rated it liked it
Must-read for any young person interested in teaching English in China or traveling in Asia or Africa. Great book!
Val Rich
Feb 23, 2015 Val Rich rated it it was amazing
What a great adventure I had with Casey and Steven traveling the world! How I wish I'd been there done that with or without them! The authors met in Morocco during college and, after a time, decided to share a journey through China, Thailand, West Africa and more. Perhaps it's generational, but I never would have had the guts to do what they did - immerse themselves in widely diverse cultures, learn the language and the customs, make friends, and then, make a difference! Great book! I hope we ca ...more
Mar 26, 2011 camilla rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2011, travel
More travel lit than YA. Cute.
I totally dug this book. I agree with those who say that it might be marketed to the wrong audience, but that totally doesn't make it a bad book.

I love the way this plays with medium. Initially, I was bummed that it didn't follow the traditional graphic novel medium - no panels, speech bubbles, etc. But there is an illustration on every spread, and the illustrations definitely compliment the text.

Casey and Steven are a young couple who decide to live abroad for a year. I was impressed with Case
I wasn't sure if I felt strongly enough about this book to give it a description. It's the kind of book that you can enjoy while still feeling kind of ambivalent about it. Casey and Steven meet in Morocco while on two different foreign exchange programs in college. They hook up, but remain friends despite going to two different schools on opposite sides of the country. After a successful string of visits during their last year of college, they decide they care about each other enough to just up ...more
Nov 06, 2011 Marsha rated it it was amazing
Casey and Steen spent about a year or more traveling through different countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Casey had a grant from her college to study and write about these different cultures. Casey and Steven taught ESL in some of the countries, which also helped pay their way. I enjoyed reading about their adventures teaching in the schools and the children’s reactions to them. This young couple had a lot of spunk.

Sometimes Casey and Steven would argue, but for the most part they go
Jul 21, 2011 Davida rated it really liked it
I couldn't decide whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. I was feeling generous, so I went with 4. It went on and on and on and on but was mostly interesting and enjoyable throughout. The concept of a couple writing a book together, words by her and pictures by him, was very cute and worked well. Overall, I found them to be sweet and good-hearted people with something to say but often nothing to say! And who wants to hear about that! And often they just struck me as young, spoiled brats...but they w ...more
Oct 14, 2013 Helen rated it really liked it
For years I have wanted to study abroad. I yearn to learn to speak a foreign language fluently from the natives, adopt their cultural habits, and become one of the local crowd. I imagine myself chatting with my new neighbors over tea, forming a bond, and proving that not all American travelers fit our boorish reputation. And when I have finally returned home, my new friends will tell everyone about their cool American friend.

Unfortunately, my study abroad days are behind me. But now I can live v
Aug 02, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: ncbla, travel
When two Americans studying abroad happen to meet in Morocco, they have no idea that the encounter will lead to their decision to live and teach abroad after college. One of the aspects of this book that I found particularly charming was its honesty. Casey (a writer) and Steven (an artist) contribute equally to the book, which describes their fondness for good food, especially the yummy dishes they ate in China, and for making friends. Some of their teaching assignments sounded quite challenging ...more
Dec 20, 2011 Latricia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen-books
I really loved this! This year has kinda been the year of non-fiction for me. I usually hate to read non-fiction, but this year the books have been so amazing that they surpass any disinterest I have in the subject.

Ok, so this particular non-fiction book had a leg up in that area since I am interested in traveling and life in other coutries. Casey and Steven work together to tell the story of thier time together in nine different countries the year after they graduate from college. Casey tells t
Apr 17, 2013 Marta rated it really liked it
I was surprised to read from so many reviewers that this book should not have been marketed as YA. It certainly did seem YA to me, and in fact, I used it in my Survey of Children's Literature college class as a nonfiction work. The students who read it seemed to enjoy it, but they were in their late teens and early twenties, so perhaps the other reviewers were right. The review by Shawn Thrasher says it all, so there is not much more to say except that had I read it as a young teen I would indee ...more
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