cover image The Camping Trip

The Camping Trip

Jennifer K. Mann. Candlewick, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0736-1

Fans of Alison Farrell’s The Hike will find much to love in this graphic novel–style picture book by Mann (Josie’s Lost Tooth) about Ernestine, a city kid on her first camping trip. Gathering provisions and driving to the campsite with her Aunt Jackie and cousin Samantha is lots of fun, but once they arrive at a lakeside campsite shaded by towering pines—rendered in woodsy-toned collaged pencil drawings—Ernestine is definitely out of her comfort zone (“It’s so quiet. And big. It smells like trees, and fire, and dirt”). Using first-person narration and balloon dialogue, Mann takes Ernestine and readers through a journey of rude shocks and newfound resilience toward mastery. Ernestine discovers, to her wide-eyed horror, that there are real fish in the lake, and the hills are bigger than anything in the city. A bout of late-night homesickness leaves her missing her single father, but there are also s’mores (Ernestine turns out to be an expert marshmallow toaster), an awe-inspiring starry sky, and, in the last swim before returning home, “The fish don’t bite me once.” Mann wisely refrains from tying up her story with a big ribbon, but readers will understand what Ernestine knows: the world looks different after a wonderful adventure. Ages 3–7. [em]Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (May) [/em]