RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Teddy's Travels: America's National Parks, by Trefoni Michael Rizzi

When I was young, my mother always surprised my siblings and me with "travel bags" whenever we sallied forth on a vacation by car. Filled with maps, books, pencils, and all sorts of knickknacks and games to keep us interested in where we were going and how we would get there, the bags did an amazing job of educating us on our various destinations while cutting down on the "Are we there yet?" syndrome.

If Teddy's Travels, a new book by Trefoni Michael Rizzi and his alter ego Tedrick de Bear, had been available back then, I'm sure I would have found a copy in my travel bag. Not only is the book an excellent introduction to America's national parks, it has plenty of space for keeping track of places visited, adding photos, and collecting stickers and stamps. As the cover says, it's a "personal guidebook, scrapbook and journal, all in one place."

Tedrick de Bear at the St. Louis Arch
Trefoni Michael Rizzi
Tedrick de Bear at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

A big part of the appeal of Teddy's Travels is the book's appearance. Bound with a big fat spiral coil and sturdy coated cardboard covers, the book has a pleasing heft. Inside, the pages are heavy, high-quality paper, and there are full-color illustrations and photographs on every page. The book is tough enough to go on a cross-country trip with a child and come home looking good enough to sit on a coffee table.

Tedrick de Bear is, as I've mentioned, a persona of author Trefoni Michael Rizzi. But Tedrick is also a real teddy bear who appears on almost every page of the book. Having traveled with the author cross-country half a dozen times, Tedrick has been photographed sitting on the Statue of Liberty's toe, atop a "hoodoo" in Bryce Canyon, and on more national park welcome signs than most people have ever seen. It's Tedrick's voice that explains park features and makes suggestions about what to see. This makes the book especially engaging, not only for the six- to ten-year-olds it was written for, but also for adults.

Teddy's Travels is organized by region, with chapters dedicated to nine geographic areas from the North Atlantic and Southeast to The Pacific Northwest (which includes Alaska) and the West (which includes Hawaii). Another section covers "special interest" parks, including national military parks, historic sites, rivers, seashores, and more. Over thirty national parks and monuments are featured in the book, and dozens more are listed. Trivia questions called "Tedrick's Teasers" are scattered through the pages, and there are plenty of tips for how children can get the most out of a national park visit and what to look for at each of the featured parks.

Teddy's Travels is a great way to introduce kids to America's wonders, and plenty of adults will enjoy learning about national parks through the eyes of a teddy bear, too.

Megan Edwards

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