Review of The Great Indoors

The Great Indoors
by Julie Falatko; illus. by Ruth Chan
Primary    Disney-Hyperion    40 pp.    g
4/19    978-1-368-00083-3    $17.99

The tables are turned in this mischievous comedy about the highs and lows of camping. As a camper van full of humans drives away from a house, two bears in the front yard come out of hiding: the coast is clear. Father, mother, and teenage bear — soon followed by beaver, deer, and skunk families — waltz in, luggage and groceries in hand, looking forward to the “most relaxing week of the year.” The deer bring a karaoke machine and disco ball; the beavers take over the kitchen; the skunks take advantage of the cellphone reception; and the bears lounge about (though the teen prefers primping in the bathroom). The animals’ week of excess and crowded quarters, however, leads to discord and chaos, with everyone eventually realizing that “the great indoors is too much work.” They pack up and head out, cheerfully promising to return next year. Chan’s cartoon illustrations are playful and expressive, and the mostly dark-brown forest animals stand out against primarily pastel-colored backgrounds. Chan gives human hairdos to some of the creatures — father bear has a comb-over — and plays up the outlandish humor inherent in forest creatures vacationing indoors. The story stops just short of the human family members’ discovery of the wreckage by showing them on the doorstep, happy to be home, tantalizingly leaving their presumed shock and dismay to readers’ imaginations.

From the March/April 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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