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

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  410 Ratings  ·  107 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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Dani Shuping
Aug 23, 2011 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
Dec 22, 2010 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
Aug 17, 2011 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
Apr 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, africa, china
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
Jul 30, 2011 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 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 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
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 01, 2011 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.
Oct 30, 2011 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!
May 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
One of the most engaging, honest, and fun travelogues I've ever read. Neat drawings on every page with smart, well-placed text, it was a joy to lose myself in this book. Also, I know a lot more about Timbuktu now.
Aug 04, 2013 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.
May 15, 2011 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.
Jan 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Better at the start and got a little boring towards the end, but still pretty good.
Pyone Lei Lei Mon
It's a fun read with cool illustrations.
Edward Sullivan
Apr 11, 2011 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.
Mar 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Must-read for any young person interested in teaching English in China or traveling in Asia or Africa. Great book!
Dawn Ryan
Sep 14, 2010 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?
Mar 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2011, travel
More travel lit than YA. Cute.
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.
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
True story about a couple who meet while they are studying abroad in Morroco. When they graduate from college, they decide to take the plunge and live and work together internationally. Their adventure starts in Beijing, China where they work teaching English. They travel for a little after that and then eventually move to Mali. Casey has accepted a Fullbright Fellowship opportunity and Steven goes to work on his art. They also find opportunities to teach English. I loved this book. As someone w ...more
Chance Dudley
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This one was pretty good. I loved the combination of Steven's quirky and whimsical illustrations and Casey's account of the ups and downs of their travels and, for the most part, each complemented the other to make an exciting and authentic story. Like their sometimes bizarre travels, this book had its ups and downs, but overall it held my attention (and being about 500 pages, this is an incredible feat tbh and I'm awarding a star for that alone).
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
My favorite part of this book was the fact that there were drawings on every page. The story lacked substance. I finished and wondered what the point of it was. I didn't get a sense of a journey. I don't know what they learned from the different places that they visited and people they met. It was just a book that said hey, we went here, we ate this, and we met a few people, and now we're glad to go home.
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Reading this book not only stirred up some mad Wanderlust in me but also made me wish that Jill and I had already written up our experiences in India right. Someday...
Oct 23, 2011 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
Oct 14, 2013 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
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This started out pretty good with fun narrative and fun pictures. The authors did a good job showing us how life is for people living in the many places; making friends, eating in local places (not the tourist ones) riding public transportation... They also did a good job in showing some of the hardships; getting sick from the food, being jailed for no reason and being chased and having rocks thrown at them from a prejudiced mob.

Somewhere after China, however, it started to get a little boring.
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
2 college students meet in Morocco during junior year
They both love each other and travel it's clear
They navigate post-college funding and fear
China is destination numero uno towards which they steer
Casey's family even comes to visit them here

Teaching has its ups and downs it's true
Also winter in China can make one blue
Delightful flavors help them get through
Some months later, it's on to a country in SE Asia or a few

Next, by beaches and tropical weather they're greeted
Time to write and sketch an
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“Dear Fly,

I love you. If you are a mouse I am cheese. If you are a cat I am a mouse. You are a fly, so I want to be shit.”
More quotes…