During my scouting years we learned basic survival skills, sharing many an adventure with neighborhood girls at different designated camps. Older and out of college, hiking into the remote areas of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, I spent a fairly sleepless night worried about bears and only a tiny tent for protection. Camping across the north and south west might have been the best two summer weeks I ever spent.
What I've never done (but the idea is certainly fascinating) is go camping with prehistoric pals. If I ever had the opportunity, I might want to take the newest release of Caldecott Honor winner (Flora and the Flamingo) Molly Idle along with me. The characters introduced with great hilarity in Tea Rex have returned in Camp Rex (Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA)). Get ready for a camping trip that is truly out of this world!
Searching for an outing to enjoy with your friends?
All camping aficionados can attest to the benefits of the fresh air. Without a doubt it is the best kind of exercise for shaking away the winter cobwebs. There are, of course, certain types of protocol to be observed.
These rules of the road (so to speak) are never more important than when your best buddies are a Tyrannosaurus rex, a Pterodactyl, a Stegosaurus, a Triceratops and a teddy-bear-toting little brother. Sticking together and following the trail can be a tad bit tricky. Once the tents are erected at the ultimate spot, discovering the joys of the forest are next on the agenda.
This too poses its own set of problems if you lack understanding of the local plants and animals. (Shaking a beehive is not a good idea.) Since there has yet to be a canoe made large enough to accommodate gigantic lizards, be prepared for the consequences. As the day closes a group effort is needed to gather materials for building a fire for cooking, heat and light. No...no...no...not that much wood!
With songs, stories and sounds of the night life filling the air some are able to fall asleep, tuckered out from the day's activities. One is not as lucky as the others but when morning comes, friends offer support. Who knows what another day will bring for this merry band of camping companions?
An unnamed narrator introduces the adventure proceeding in a most proper manner to delineate the steps necessary for a successful outing into the wilderness. It's the implications created by Molly Idle's precise use of language which set the stage for the contrast between the text and illustrations. It's calm, cool and collected versus comical chaos.
Precise details on the characters and within the settings, shadings in the coloration providing texture and expressive facial features begin on the matching dust jacket and book case. Using wood for the letters in Camp is a nice touch as is the crown over Rex. Perhaps Molly Idle is getting us ready for the surprises within the book by giving us this illustration on the front which contrasts with the campfire scene later in the story. The opening and closing endpapers picturing a scouting (camper) hat, a Wilderness Guidebook, a compass, a canteen and two daisies are distinctly different from one another telling a tale before the first page is turned.
Alternating between two-page visuals edge to edge and single page, half page and a page with three illustrations bordered in white and a fine blue line, Idle keeps in splendid sync with her text. At each reading more humorous details reveal themselves; the "coonskin" cap worn by the Stegosaurus, her younger brother's teddy bear seems to get in on all the action, the owl giving the Pterodactyl the evil eye, and the canoe oars being used as firewood. There are extra stories in all the illustrations!
One of my favorite illustrations is the previously mentioned campfire scene. All the characters are gathered around the fire, roasting marshmallows, singing at the top of their proverbial lungs (even the teddy bear's head it tipped up in song). Where the marshmallows are placed will have you roaring with laughter as will the antics of the raccoon.
Camp Rex written and illustrated by Molly Idle is fun...fun...fun. It's a must have for all those storytelling sessions about camping and summer activities. As a read aloud it's exquisite; the difference between the reader's (narrator's) voice (prim and particular) and the pictures will have listeners giggling continuously. You'll never hear the word camping again without getting a big grin on your face; this title will remain in your memory for a long time.
Please visit Molly Idle's official website by following the link embedded in her name. On Sunday visit John Schumacher's blog, Watch. Connect. Read. and Colby Sharp's site, Sharpread, as they feature Molly Idle and Camp Rex in a trifecta. It might involve a book trailer. Here is the link to her post at the Nerdy Book Club. Have fun! Also for more interior pictures and an interview check out the Penguin Teen Tumblr.
@Loveofxena @colbysharp The pterodactyl's name is Alan, the triceratops is Rosemary, and the stegosaurus is Clarence :) #CampRex #funfact
— Molly Idle (@MollyIdle) April 27, 2014