By Vicki Shelter, Lower School Teacher

veniceSettings: they are so important, yet often unacknowledged, unexpected or taken for granted.

When we travel somewhere, we expect the setting to change. Once at our destination, we might feel surprised, intrigued or inspired. When we read a book a good writer will present the setting so that we can visualize where the story and characters might take us and help us “travel” there while we read.

What can be somewhat unexpected, however, is when we arrive somewhere and we feel that we are in a story we have read before.  This is what happened when my daughters Carly and Mallory and I arrived in Venice, Italy for a few days at very the beginning of our trip.

The minute I arrived in Venice I felt transported into a book called “The Thief Lord” by Cornelia Funke. Many of the third graders saw the video version during the afternoon after Grandparents Day this past year.

The setting of the story is Venice. It is about a kidnapping, orphans living in a movie theater, chase scenes involving mysterious adults, vaporettos (boats), canals, hidden alleyways, and a magical mystery involving time change.

While walking through the streets of Venice, I could clearly imagine the chase scenes in the book. The city and canals that were so important to the story were exactly as I had imagined when I read the book. I could clearly visualize the two main characters in the story, brothers Prosper and Bo, running from the detective Victor Getz. I sometimes even looked over my shoulder to make sure no one was following me. The author had described Venice so accurately that my appreciation for Cornelia Funke, as a writer, grew. If you haven’t read the book, I recommend it!

So settings are important, unforgettable, magical and so valuable to a story, a location or a memory. Our time in Venice was equally unforgettable and magical and will be reawakened when we read a book set here, look at our photos, or reminisce with others who may have traveled here.

About Westtown School

Westtown School is a Pre-K through 12th grade Quaker, coed, college preparatory day and boarding school in West Chester, PA.
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