Review of The Camping Trip

The Camping Trip
by Jennifer K. Mann; illus. by the author
Primary    Candlewick    56 pp.    g
5/20    978-1-5362-0736-1    $17.99

City-dweller Ernestine has never been camping, but when Aunt Jackie and cousin Samantha invite her, she gets her dad’s okay and starts preparing: new flashlight and sleeping bag, a homemade batch of trail mix, and a long list of things to pack — all helpfully pictured and labeled in the engaging art. After a long car ride, they arrive at the campground, and Ernestine learns that tent pitching is harder than it looks and that hiking in the woods is tougher than walking to school. Dinner (tofu hot dogs and broccoli salad) and swimming (with fish!) present some new challenges for the girl, but bedtime proves the trickiest time of all. Aunt Jackie knows just what to do to help her niece get over her homesickness and enjoy even the night: “Let’s go look at the stars” — accompanied by a stunning double-page spread in deep purple and black. Ernestine narrates the story in first person and present tense, capturing the immediacy of her experiences. Mann’s skillfully crafted pencil and “digitally collaged and painted” illustrations, in a nicely paced mix of panels, full-page illustrations, and double-page spreads, quietly foster a love for the wilderness while they show how time spent outside can bring families closer. A rare and welcome depiction of an African American family enjoying nature (see also Hike, rev. 3/20).

From the May/June 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dr. Michelle H. Martin
Dr. Michelle H. Martin
Dr. Michelle H. Martin is the Beverly Cleary Professor for Children & Youth Services in the Information School at the University of Washington in Seattle.

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