The Camping Trip

by Jennifer K Mann (Author) Jennifer K Mann (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

My aunt Jackie invited me to go camping with her and my cousin Samantha this weekend. I've never been camping before, but I know I will love it.

Ernestine is beyond excited to go camping. She follows the packing list carefully (new sleeping bag! new flashlight! special trail mix made with Dad!) so she knows she is ready when the weekend arrives. But she quickly realizes that nothing could have prepared her for how hard it is to set up a tent, never mind fall asleep in it, or that swimming in a lake means that there will be fish -- eep!

Will Ernestine be able to enjoy the wilderness, or will it prove to be a bit too far out of her comfort zone?

In an energetic illustrated story about a first sleepover under the stars, acclaimed author-illustrator Jennifer K. Mann reminds us that opening your mind to new experiences, no matter how challenging, can lead to great memories (and a newfound taste for s'mores).

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Mann's thin, sometime-scribbly lines and earth-toned colors capture the child's viewpoint masterfully, and the variety of layouts, from pages full of small vignettes with speech bubbles to spread-spanning landscapes, carries readers through anticipation, humor, and awe in this longer-than-usual picture book/graphic novel hybrid...This delightful trip will be savored again and again.


Starred Review
Beginning readers will enjoy being able to look at a picture and read the camping word placed nearby--camera, hat, swimsuit, pillow, sunglasses--on the endpapers as well as in the story. This title can serve as a manual for children who are about to go camping for the first time or as a remembrance for those who have had that exhilarating adventure.

Horn Book Magazine

Starred Review
Mann's skillfully crafted pencil and "digitally collaged and painted" illustrations, in a nicely paced mix of panels, full-page illustrations, and double-page spreads, quietly foster a love for the wilderness while they show how time spent outside can bring families closer. A rare and welcome depiction of an African American family going camping.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

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. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (May)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 2--It's Ernestine's first camping trip and she is excited. At the Cedar Tree Campground, Ernestine's aunt Jackie and cousin Samantha introduce her to all the wonders and fun; they swim in the lake, hug huge trees, and eat delicious broccoli salad and s'mores, of course. While there, Ernestine finds certain activities less enjoyable, but with encouragement and support she adjusts. By the end of their stay, she eagerly anticipates next year's trip. From preparation to return, Mann details many steps relevant to camping, using a combination of full spreads, and multi-panel pages. Her narrative voice feels like a journal created by Ernestine. VERDICT From the car ride to the tent setup, young readers will get a solid foundation in what to expect from camping. A great guide for those heading out on their first outdoor adventure.--Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ont.

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

The sequential collage illustrations pick out the humorous contrasts between Ernestine's gray-toned points of reference and the full color reality the woods offers. This might be a fine step up to Wissinger's Gone Camping (BCCB 2/17) for families heading out off on their own summer overnights.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Jennifer K Mann
Jennifer K. Mann was an architect before turning to children's books full time. She is the creator of the picture books Josie's Lost Tooth, Sam and Jump, Two Speckled Eggs, and I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard. She and her family spend a week camping with friends every summer, always at the same campsite in a beautiful state park. They pack their rickety pick-up truck full of gear and dogs, put an old canoe on the roof, and spend the week hiking, exploring, swimming, paddling, cooking outside, telling stories, and sleeping in tents. Jennifer K. Mann lives on an island near Seattle with her husband, children, cats, dogs, and chickens.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Candlewick Press (MA)
Publication date
April 14, 2020
BISAC categories
JUV039090 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | New Experience
JUV014000 - Juvenile Fiction | Girls & Women
JUV032170 - Juvenile Fiction | Sports & Recreation | Camping & Outdoor Activities
Library of Congress categories

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