An uplifting tale showing what fun may be had when one summons the courage to head into the woods and off the grid.

GONE CAMPING

A NOVEL IN VERSE

A much-anticipated family camping trip goes slightly awry.

In a follow-up to Gone Fishing (2013), Wissinger and Cordell again present a playful, delightfully illustrated verse narrative for primary graders centered on a family outing for white siblings Sam and Lucy. Where the previous book was largely told by Sam, as he fretted over his little sister’s hijacking of the fishing trip he’d envisioned alone with their father, here many of the poems reveal Lucy’s thoughts, giving equal time to her hopes and fears associated with their upcoming adventure in the woods. Everything is set for the family’s camping trip until Dad wakes up with a cold so fierce both he and Mom are forced to stay home. Though absent-minded Grandpa, who “putters” and “rarely goes outdoors,” steps in to salvage the trip, Lucy and Sam can hardly contain their disappointment. With his signature scribbly sketches, Cordell hilariously nails the change of mood from unbridled excitement, as Sam and Lucy race to surprise their parents with breakfast in bed, to Sam glowering as he eats his cereal and Lucy flat-on-her-back disconsolate on the floor, dropping cornflakes into her mouth at arm’s length with operatic affect, thinking: “This must be a trick. / Dad is never ever sick. / … / Say it isn’t true. / We won’t go camping without you two.” But the three venture off to the forest as Wissinger again takes occasion to explore myriad lyric poetic forms, explained in several pages of backmatter.

An uplifting tale showing what fun may be had when one summons the courage to head into the woods and off the grid. (bibliography) (Verse novel. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-63873-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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TEA WITH MILK

In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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