Photo Credit: Amazon
Ehsan Goes To Paris: The New Children's Travel Book Providing More Representation
Inspiration can come from anywhere. An errant thought, an old photograph, or even fall foliage. For Laneka Leatutufu, the inspiration for a children’s travel book struck during meditation. Leatutufu had always wanted to write a book but she struggled to find a theme until that moment of mindfulness.
“I just heard Ehsan Goes to Paris and I just wrote it from there,” she told Travel Noire. “It just kind of happened like that.”
The book’s title references a family trip to France in 2018 to celebrate Leatutufu’s son Ehsan’s first birthday. The plan was to visit Disneyland Paris, but she also wanted to explore the country’s Black culture. Novelist James Baldwin had lived there, along with American-born entertainer and French civil rights activist Josephine Baker. The Thomas Alexandre Dumas Slavery Memorial honors the first Black general in France and the abolition of slavery.
Leatutufu wanted to soak it all in. When they eventually returned to their Bay Area home, she wanted to document her son’s first trip abroad, and the book was ideal. But she realized there was an opportunity to make it even more meaningful.
“I work as a juvenile probation officer and there are so many kids that have never been anywhere,” Leatutufu lamented. “A lot of them have never left Oakland or just never left California. I’m not seeing enough Black male protagonists in books. That was another reason why it was a big deal for me, because of the representation. I don’t know if there’s anything in the travel industry where you see Black families traveling or exploring or just enjoying the fun and riches of life. Or just adventuring, eating different cuisine, learning different languages; none of that. That was major for me and just wanting to expose, not only my son, but kids who have never had enough resources to do other things. I’m helping to foster the mindset that you can go anywhere in this world. This world is your playground too, and you are welcome to play.”
The picture book shows the family navigating the popular European city with visits to historical landmarks like l’Arc de Triomphe, The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and a stop at upscale pâtisserie Ladurée.
And Ehsan’s Parisian experience is just the beginning. Leatutufu’s goal is to create a series featuring her son traveling to different parts of the world — Where’s Waldo-style — while also highlighting Black culture. Ideally, her next children’s travel book will touch on her now four-year-old son’s heritage.
“I’m half Samoan so him going to Samoa, visiting Africa, him visiting whatever continent — it’s definitely a series.
You can find Ehsan Goes to Paris on Amazon.