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Why Little James Starts his Adventures to Australia and Italy

Guest Blog Written by Children’s Author Janine Iannelli

“Now don’t go overseas, fall in love with someone and move to another country,” is what my family said before I boarded my first international flight to Italy at the age of 20. Unfortunately for my parents, that is exactly what I did. I fell in love with an Australian backpacker that I met while staying in Florence and 6 months later I moved to Australia where I lived for the next 5 years. The relationship, in the end, was not meant to be but the experience I had was. My time abroad was the inspiration for my passion project, Little James’ Big Adventures, a children’s book series to teach kids about other countries and cultures.

The first two books are Australia and Italy because both places are near and dear to my heart.

Duomo Florence, Italy

My favorite part of traveling was learning all the differences between my home country of the United States and where I was visiting.

 In Italy, I loved how people always gave a kiss on each cheek when greeting each other. I also loved how hospitable and kind people were. I had studied the language for years so I was eager to speak in Italian however everyone in Italy was also eager to practice their English on me. I did a study abroad program where I was based in Florence. Florence is an incredible city. It is small so you can walk absolutely everywhere! I spent so many days just grabbing a small gelato and walking through the city admiring all the shops.

As far as sightseeing in Florence goes, these are my top picks and must-sees:

The David in Academia

Ponte Vecchio

Uffizi Palace and Gallery

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Piazza duomo

I also visited Venice during my time studying abroad in Italy. Just like in the Little James book I too took a gondola ride and tried on the Venetian masks. Something I did though that Little James did not was I visited the island of Murano. If you do a trip to Venice I highly recommend this. I watched a glass blowing show and after that, I walked through the shop which had all different types of glass blown items and jewelry.

Rome was also amazing of course.

There is just so much to do and see! Here is a shortlist.


Roman ruins

St. Peter’s Basilica


Vatican and Sistine chapel

Trevi fountain

Spanish Steps


Colosseum Rome, Italy
Pisa, Italy
Venice Italy

As I said when I was in Italy I met an Australian backpacker who I eventually fell for and moved with to Australia. We lived in Tasmania, which is a small island beneath the mainland of Australia. Tasmania is incredibly beautiful and still one of the most scenic places I have ever visited. It is cooler than the rest of the country though so winters are still not cold enough to get snow on the ground which is great! I hate shoveling snow so this was a very nice perk. However, if you do want to experience snow you can always drive up to the top of Mount Wellington in Hobart on a cold day and play in the snow up there. The best thing about Tasmania though is that it has the beauty of both the mountains and the water. Incredible!

Top things I recommend doing in Tassie:

Freycinet National Park

Wineglass Bay and Hazard beach

Cradle Mountain

City of Hobart


Also, see/drive to the top of Mt. Wellington where you get a gorgeous view of the whole city.

Salamanca Market

Cataract Gorge in Launceston

I also had so much fun learning about all the little differences in living and language. And I loved learning and hearing new phrases.

Just to name a few:

The trunk of the car = the boot

My treat = my shout (in terms of who pays)

Complaining = winging

Garbage = rubbish

Gas for the car = Petrol

Ketchup = tomato sauce

I also enjoyed the different foods. I indulged in the meat pies and sausage rolls. I also learned that bakery’s there are for savory treats, not so much sweets or desserts.

Throughout this time in Australia, I did a lot of traveling.

My favorite places outside of Tassie are Melbourne, Sydney, and Cairns. 

Cairns is where I swam in the Great Barrier Reef and watched a girl grab onto a turtles shell and take a short little ride off his back. An image that made it into the Australia book.

Melbourne though not in the book in an amazing city and very easy to get around with the tram system. It’s above ground, clean and simple. I wish every city had this!

Sites in Sydney:

The Sydney Opera House 

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Darling Harbor

Bondi Beach 

Hazard Beach Australia
Wineglass Bay Tasmania
Mt Wellington, Australia

I made friends all over the globe and something I noticed as a major difference between Americans and everyone else is their knowledge of other countries. Everyone I met knew their geography and how people lived in each place, their history, and their landmarks. They would have discussions on the differences in culture and what made each place unique. I however did not learn things like this about other countries growing up in the United States. My family did not travel and I did not learn such things in school. This is what gave me the idea for ‘Little James Big Adventures.’ A series about a little boy who visits a different country in each book. I also brought in a fantasy element to the story and gave Little James a magic snow globe that takes him anywhere he wishes. How else is a 10-year-old boy going to get around the world with no currency?

We even have a Christmas special/prequel to explain how Little James’ gets this magical snow globe which is the 3rd of our series and will be coming out October 1st! I say we because it is my sister Michelle and myself, I write and she brings it all to life with her illustrations.

Traveling is such a special gift and knowledge of the world is too. I am so thankful for my experiences that lead me to create these books and I love that I get to relive my experiences through the characters of Little James and Susie (Susie is his little sister that tags along on each trip). I hope children all around the world enjoy and learn from them too.

Little James Big Adventure
Make sure to check out the new 3rd book in the Little James Adventure Series – THE GLOBE!
All of the Little James Adventure books are available to purchase on Etsy, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.
There will also be a link on our Travel Resources page.

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