Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel

Ruth McNally Barshaw, Author, Ruth McNally Barshaw, Illustrator . Bloomsbury $11.95 (170p) ISBN 978-1-58234-745-5

Barshaw’s debut children’s book, a paper-over-board volume, replicates the sketchbook of 11-year-old Ellie McDougal. Her surname nickname reflects her love of doodling, which she does a great deal of in these, unfortunately somewhat repetitious, pages. While Ellie’s parents are away, she and her baby brother join their aunt, uncle and cousins on a camping trip. In line drawings accompanied by often acerbic commentary, the aspiring artist chronicles the ups and downs of this week-long expedition, which initially entails far more downs than ups. For starters, Ellie points out that her aunt is in a “perpetual bad mood” and all of her three cousins “are pains,” especially Eric, whom she refers to as “Er-ick” and describes as “a nose-picking, booger-slurping, bug-infested parasite.” Ellie’s depiction of him (through most of the book) as a six-armed monster grows tedious, as does the incessant bickering between the two cousins. More diverting are the young journalist’s descriptions of such family activities as catching frogs, visiting an animal museum, taking a nature walk, star gazing and tossing water balloons. She also offers instructions for playing a handful of games. Predictably, as the vacation ends Ellie admits that she has had more fun than she’d expected and, on a list of things she learned during the week, includes a nugget of wisdom: “No girl is an island. We’re all in this together. Might as well try to get along.” Ages 8-12. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 170 pages - 978-1-59990-276-0
Paperback - 170 pages - 978-1-59990-715-4
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