Isabelle Demenge - the talented woman behind the fabulous kids travel activity books - LEAP AND HOP took some time out from her inspiring travelling schedule to answer some questions. With her husband and 3 boys Isabelle's family has certainly done their fair share of traveling.
There are 9 gorgeous LEAP AND HOP books focusing on mostly Asian countries. These books are a super fun way for your kids to learn and engage with the people and places you go, so they are not just tagging along. The activities certainly aren't boring - your kids can learn how to order food and become street food critics in Vietnam.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I’m French and American and I grew up in Paris. Our family including our three boys moved to Hong Kong 8 years ago. I quit my job and became the "travel agent" of the family, among other “jobs". The move to Asia opened up all sorts of traveling dreams in the region. We believe that there is no kid too young to travel. Ours started very young and love it.
How did Leap and Hop come about?
When we decided to visit Cambodia in 2010 I realised that there was no book for children to help them in the preparation of the trip. So, I decided to write a sort of journal for the children. It was fun to write. I knew what would make my kids laugh and engage them. That’s how is started.
Leap and Hop - Cambodia
Can you tell us about the books?
Today we have 9 books: Bali, Cambodia, India (Rajasthan) - Hong Kong, Myanmar, New York, Paris, Singapore, and Sri Lanka. Vietnam is coming out in December. The age group for the book is 7-13. Kids need to be comfortable readers to enjoy the book independently. Many families enjoy the book with younger kids but parents have to be more involved.
The idea is to introduce a country/city to the kids without dumbing down. So I talk about architecture, history, geography, religion, food, currency, local traditions etc. with examples and activities for the kids which involve encouraging them to interact with the locals. They don't just read about the different cuisine in Vietnam, they learn how to order the food, and then act as food critic for street food. If it’s fun, they will be stimulated and engaged rather. That’s true for everything, not just the food. The kids have something fun to do at particular sites whether it’s a treasure hunt, an I-spy game, a doodle. It depends on the site.
Leap and Hop Myanmar
I'm jealous! Does this mean you travel to all these countries to do your research?
I do a lot of research before I go and I write a rough draft that I call the “Guinea Pig Book” for my children. We then travel as a family to test all the activities for each book. We then have a giant feedback session with my kids - they are my harshest critique. Then I work with my amazing illustrator, Emilie Sarnel, to wrap up the book.
Leap and Hop - Sri Lanka
Can you tell us about a few of your most precious memories about travelling?
It’s hard to choose but if I had to pick I would say that in Cambodia, I had come up with this game for the kids to identify buddha carvings in Bayon only to realise when we got there that there were so many faces that looked almost identical that it would take the kids hours and hours to figure this one out. That clearly was a little too much, so the game got scratched from the final book.
What about your kids? Do they have a favourite country or book?
Until last month, my kids’ favorite trip was Myanmar. That was special. Everything changed last month when we spent over two weeks in Mongolia. Mongolia is now way on top of their all time favorite places. The Leap & Hop Mongolia book is almost finished and will come out early 2017 :)
Thanks again Isabelle. I look forward to the Vietnam and Mongolia books coming out!
CHECK OUT THE LEAP AND HOP WEBSITE
LOVE THIS LITTLE YOUTUBE CLIP!