Review of Charlie & Mouse Outdoors

Charlie & Mouse Outdoors
by Laurel Snyder; illus. by Emily Hughes
Primary    Chronicle    48 pp.
3/20    978-1-4521-7066-4    $14.99

Their fourth outing (most recently Charlie & Mouse Even Better, rev. 5/19) takes the siblings into the Great Outdoors for a family camping trip…but first a “Boring” (the title of chapter 1) car ride. The three brief chapters that follow include a hike (“A hike! A hike! It was time for a hike!”), encounters with wildlife, and burnt marshmallows. The boys’ sharp observations and imaginations contribute to the entertainment of their parents, themselves, and readers. What begins as Charlie’s doldrums-fighting, ho-hum, what’s-out-the-car-window story (“Once upon a time…there was a small white house near a great green mountain”) ends with an epic battle between a dragon and a hawk. Amusing surprises appear at every turn (a pig in the woods?) along with straightforward and relatable expressions of ­emotion. Regarding their collapsed tent: “‘That,’ said Charlie, ‘was a little bit scary.’ ‘Yes,’ said Mouse. ‘It was. But it was also a lot of fun.’” The parents give their kids space to play without intrusion (unless it’s for food; at one point offstage Dad offers a granola bar, and who doesn’t want to stop for French fries?), and Hughes’s amusingly detailed but never-too-busy illustrations occasionally, unobtrusively indicate Mom and Dad’s own story line.

From the March/April 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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