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Key to the Sites

A trail of literary sites for April vacation

Oh, the places you’ll go (during vacation)

Inside Dog Chapel, a churchlike space on Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury, Vt.MARTY BASCH FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE
Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House in Concord. John Kennard

With so many new interactive e-books, apps based on favorite stories, and online games with beloved characters, it’s easy to forget about just plain books. But children’s novels and picture books can become real-world adventures when you take young readers to children’s literature-centered destinations throughout New England. Grab some snacks for the drive, the GPS, and your library card (you might need to make a stop on the way home) and set out for a kid lit road trip.


If you want to stay in Boston for the day, fans of Esther Forbes’s “Johnny Tremain” can take a Boston by Foot walking tour of Revolutionary War landmarks that are featured in the Newbery-winning novel. This hour-and-a-half-long excursion starts at the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground and visits Paul Revere’s House and the Old North Church, among other local sites. Catch the next tour April 18 at noon. (www.bostonby


You can’t beat exploring Concord, the hometown of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, in early spring, but for young visitors the real draw is Orchard House (above), Louisa May Alcott’s historic home, where she penned “Little Women.” The guided tour introduces Alcott family members; the gift shop makes sure people leave with plenty of reading materials; and the many events (“Plumfield Fun Week!” and other school vacation activities will run April 17-20) bring the 19th century to life. (www.louisamayalcott

Oh, the places you’ll go indeed when you take Dr. Seuss fans to the Springfield Museums. Comprising five museums with plenty of kid appeal (e.g., the Springfield Science Museum has a planetarium and a dinosaur exhibit), one ticket gets you admission to all of them. Leave time to explore the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. The bronze garden sculptures include Theodor Seuss Geisel at his drawing board with the Cat in the Hat by his side, Horton the Elephant, the Grinch, and other characters young visitors love to meet. The playful space is the perfect way for Springfield to honor one of its native sons. (www.springfieldmuseums.org)


The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst is a must visit for picture-book lovers young and old. Founded in November 2002 by Eric Carle, the author-illustrator of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and numerous other classics, and Barbara Carle, his wife, the museum has three art galleries, a studio, a theater, and a collection of more than 10,000 illustrations. With programs for children, education professionals, and families, a fantastic bookstore, and a beautiful location, it’s worth making a day of it. (www.carlemuseum.org)

Mark Twain's library in Hartford, Conn.Dominic Chavez/Globe Staff/Boston Globe


Hours can pass without visitors noticing at the Mark Twain House and Museum (right) in Hartford, there’s just that much to do. Twain’s 25-room home includes a billiard room, where he wrote and entertained, a library, nursery, and conservatory. After a tour, readers can venture over to the museum where they are able to walk through exhibits, watch a documentary, eat in the cafe, visit the bookstore, or attend special events from plays to “Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours.” (www.marktwainhouse.org)

Save time to explore the home of Twain’s neighbor, Harriet Beecher Stowe, at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. (www.harrietbeecherstowe

The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum owns and maintains the Buttolph-Williams House, which inspired the setting for Elizabeth George Speare’s “The Witch of Blackbird Pond,” a 1958 Newbery-winning novel about a teenager girl accused of being a witch. Fans can tour the home and, thanks to maps provided by the Wethersfield Library (www.wethersfieldlibrary.org/about/pdfs/24994brochure.pdf), find sites described in the book and then match them to contemporary Wethersfield. For the younger crowd, the museum has a children’s exhibit that includes displays of toys and antique dolls as well as year-round educational programming about topics such as 18th-century food preservation and preparation, textiles, slavery, and health and medicine in early America. (www.webb-deane-stevens.org)


"The Journey That Saved Curious George” at Morgan Hill Bookstore. Associated Press

New Hampshire

For children as inquisitive as Margret and H.A. Rey’s beloved monkey, Curious George, a trip to the Margret and H.A. Rey Center (below) in Waterville Valley is worth the drive. The Reys were fascinated by art, science, and nature, so it’s fitting that their nonprofit organization has programming for children and adults that runs the gamut from art workshops to nature walks to monthly stargazing nights at the H.A. Rey Observatory at the Curious George Cottage (which is also in Waterville). Mark your calendars for the Curious George Cottage Family Festival; it takes place Aug. 11-12. (thereycenter

On the way home, take a break from Interstate 93 to visit the Morgan Hill Bookstore in New London to pick up picture books signed by award-winning artist Tomie dePaolo, who lives and works nearby in a 200-year-old barn. (www.morganhill


Founded by the late picture-book author-illustrator Stephen Huneck and his widow, Gwendolyn Huneck, Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury is a must visit for animal lovers. Huneck is best known for his series of picture books based on his black lab Sally (“Sally Goes to the Beach,” “Sally Goes to the Vet,” and “Sally’s Great Balloon Adventure,” to name a few) and for his singular woodcut artwork. Set on 150 acres on a private mountaintop and free and open to the public, Dog Mountain has hiking trails and ponds and visitors are encouraged to bring their dogs. The grounds also have a gallery and Dog Chapel, a churchlike space, where dog lovers can come to remember and celebrate pets loved and lost. A welcome sign at the door states: “All Creeds All Breeds No Dogmas Allowed.” (www.dogmt.com)


Children's book illustrator Tasha Tudor seen in Marlboro, Vt.Associated Press

Given that “Corgiville” is located “West of New Hampshire and east of Vermont,” fans of author-illustrator Tasha Tudor’s (above) whimsical stories of Corgis, cats, and numerous other creatures, as well as her nostalgia-inducing artwork will have to settle for a visit to the temporary location of the Tasha Tudor Museum in Brattleboro. While the Tudor family searches for a permanent location, the current museum is housed in the Jeremiah Beal House Museum and is open May to late October, Tuesday through Saturday, and by appointment. Special events and exhibits (such as “For the Love of Frocks: Tasha Tudor’s Favourite Dresses,” which opens May 5), celebrate Tudor’s devotion to heirloom handcrafts, her 1830s lifestyle, and her afternoon teas. (www.

While in Vermont, it would be a shame

not to stop by the Flying Pigs Bookstore in Shelburne. Owners Elizabeth Bluemle and Josie Leavitt write a blog about bookstore life and children’s books for Publishers Weekly, and their events attract a mix of adult and children’s book authors. Try to time your visit to coincide with a story hour and leave with a stack of signed picture books from the their impressive selection (www.flyingpigbooks.com)



The Maine Discovery Museum in Bangor celebrates, among others, authors E.B. White and Margaret Wise Brown, who both spent time in Maine. In the museum’s Booktown exhibit, kids can visit the “Goodnight Moon” room, the lighthouse from Peter and Connie Roop’s “Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie” and Mr. Condon’s Garage from Robert McCloskey’s “One Morning in Maine.” After imagining Wilbur wallowing in mud and Charlotte weaving words into webs, enjoy the rest of the exhibits, which include hands-on science activities and new “Dino Dig” exploration sites. (www.maine

Parents and kids alike who grew up with McCloskey’s 1948 picture book “Blueberries for Sal” might want to visit “Sal’s Bear” at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (above) in Boothbay. This sculpture was created by Nancy Schön, the same artist who created the “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture in the Boston Public Garden, which is based on McCloskey’s Caldecott-winning book of the same name. (Schön will unveil her latest children’s literature inspired art at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in November as part of the museum’s 10th anniversary celebration.) The Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden also has numerous other statues, a Story Barn filled with books, popular storytelling hours, and plenty of other activities. (www.mainegardens.org)

Slater Mill in Pawtucket, R.I.handout

Rhode Island:

Though the mills in Rhode Island School of Design alumnus David Macaulay’s “Mill” are imaginary, the Slater Mill in Pawtucket (below) is a real place readers can visit after poring over Macaulay’s gorgeous pictures. Costumed interpreters take tours through three buildings, explaining and demonstrating along the way. A highlight? Seeing a 16,000-pound working wooden water wheel in action. (www.slatermill.org)

Jot down Oct. 13 in your planner, because that’s when the Festival of Children’s Books & Authors will take place at the Lincoln School in Providence. Padma Venkatraman, author of the teen novel “Island’s End,” and Chris Van Allsburg, the Caldecott-winning author-illustrator of “The Polar Express,” are among the stars scheduled to appear. This daylong event includes activities, a performance, and plenty of opportunities for kids to get books signed. (www.lincolnschool.org/page.cfm?p=2427)

Chelsey Philpot, a book review editor at School Library Journal, can be reached at philpot