When I was a young lad, I really had no idea what the world was like outside of the relatively small circle of familiar places I visited in the summertime. As a family we just never traveled. The farthest I ever ventured as a boy was Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, both a little more than an hour or so from my home. Big regional parks stood in for the even larger national ones. The local beaches, all quite beautiful in their own right, were my Waikiki or South of France, and as far as I knew, the old Victorians and Art Deco masterpieces that graced my town were as cool as anything I might have possibly seen or experienced in New York, Chicago, or Seattle. But when it came to plotting out future destinations or action-packed locales, I needed no travel agency to prod me forward. All I needed were the stacks of my friendly downtown library to take me far and away from the sweet suburban life that I knew and loved.

I suppose I could have been considered a highly imaginative suburban kid, but once I dove into a good book, I became a citizen of the world. Now, that world may have been colored with tomes of robust fiction and wonderfully dry history, but it was an exciting world all the same. The town that Tom Sawyer grew up in, the riverbanks that Mole, Badger, Ratty, and Toad rambled, the other side of the looking glass environs of Alice, the lonely isles of Robinson Crusoe and the Swiss Family Robinson, the island treasure guarded by Ben Gunn, Peter’s skies above London, were some of my most familiar and favorite places to visit, all to be had for the price of a bus token. Take those adventures, coupled with boy’s own biographies of adventurers and explorers, generals and statesmen, and I was truly living all over the map. But as much I as loved the safety and comfort of my armchair travelogues, I loved the idea of seeing the world even more. After graduating from high school, the real world knocked, and I answered the door.

The Navy took me to Mexican and Southeast Asian ports of call. My time in the profession has had me live and work all over the West, from Orange County, California to Seattle, Washington, from Denver, Colorado to the great thundering coast of Mendocino, California. I am happy to have had the chance to live so much life outside the covers of books. All the same I am happy that my love of books and reading helped to bring me here, to the wonders and joys of the Rogue River Valley. I love that I found wonderful new bookish places to visit here in the Medford Children’s Library. To think how much smaller my world would have been had I not fallen upon the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Petersen, or the Mabel Jones series by Will Mabbit, or even that grand historical set by Avi, Beyond the Western Sea.

We may be running rovers all over Mars, but instead of heading there, I think I will groove on the Red Planet and the universe beyond with Kevin Emerson’s Chronicle of the Dark Star series. And why fly to China when we have Grace Lin, author of the Newbery Honor Book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, who has penned a number of exciting novels about China set in mythical, legendary times, every one of them worth reading time and time again. William Joyce’s Guardian series is one that I never tire of recommending, for it allows you to time travel back to those safe and wonderfully comfy worlds of childhood armchair reading, worlds sprinkled with menace, action, adventure, and heroism.

I may be traveling on, but my future is filled with the promise of even more grand adventures ahead. I was happy to serve you as the Medford Children’s Librarian. I will definitely miss my patrons here in Medford, especially all the little ones. I have enjoyed working with the staff of Jackson County Library Services: enthusiastic, well-polished, and knowledgeable professionals all. So, yes, time to resume my journey. I have no idea where in the end it may lead, but this stop along the way was wonderful. A pleasant journey to you all, wherever your trails take you!

A short list of books for you to savor on your journey!