Fatima's Great Outdoors

by Ambreen Tariq (Author) Stevie Lewis (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

An immigrant family embarks on their first camping trip in the Midwest in this lively picture book by Ambreen Tariq, outdoors activist and founder of @BrownPeopleCamping

Fatima Khazi is excited for the weekend. Her family is headed to a local state park for their first camping trip! The school week might not have gone as planned, but outdoors, Fatima can achieve anything. She sets up a tent with her father, builds a fire with her mother, and survives an eight-legged mutant spider (a daddy longlegs with an impressive shadow) with her sister. At the end of an adventurous day, the family snuggles inside one big tent, serenaded by the sounds of the forest. The thought of leaving the magic of the outdoors tugs at Fatima's heart, but her sister reminds her that they can keep the memory alive through stories--and they can always daydream about what their next camping trip will look like.

Ambreen Tariq's picture book debut, with cheerful illustrations by Stevie Lewis, is a rollicking family adventure, a love letter to the outdoors, and a reminder that public land belongs to all of us.

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Author Tariq founded @BrownPeopleCamping to help diversify outdoor spaces, and through Lewis' rich, detailed illustrations, this book celebrates Indian culture while depicting the beauty and fun of being in the wilderness.

Kirkus Reviews

This unique take on the family camping story feels refreshing and new, with its layered inclusion of big feelings that children grapple with, from immigration and fitting in to mixed emotions about siblings. Lewis’ bright illustrations are heavily influenced by her animation background.

Publishers Weekly

After a tough week of being teased by her American schoolmates, Fatima Khazi is looking forward to a much-needed break--her Indian family's first camping trip ("a great American pastime," Papa proclaims). Memory-making highlights, digitally drawn by Lewis (Lost in the Library) with reassuring sensitivity, will resonate with readers of all backgrounds: there's a car sing-along (to Bollywood's Mohammed Rafi), a stubborn tent ("Papa grumbled in Urdu when the pieces wouldn't fit"), and a frightening spider. And when their campfire is the only one in the park that won't catch ("Why did Fatima's family always have to be so different?" the girl frets), Mama saves the day. Fatima initially dreads returning to the dissatisfactions of everyday life, including school and her parents' long work hours, then realizes that she now has "superhero" confidence--and great material for show and tell. While the writing sometimes tells rather than shows ("The Khazies didn't use paper plates because they were too expensive"), debut author Tariq, founder of social media initiative @BrownPeopleCamping, has created an authentic, affectionate portrait of how outdoor spaces can offer a saving grace and a sense of belonging. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Zoe Sandler, ICM Partners. Illustrator's agent: Ed Maxwell, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (Mar.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 4--After a trying week of microaggressions and outright harassment from students at school and a bad grade on a math test, Fatima Khazi can't wait to get away for her family's first camping trip. On the drive to the state park, Fatima is comforted by samosas and Bollywood music, even as her older sister's achievements at school make her feel small. Tariq deftly weaves together the Khazi family's life experiences in India with the trip, by juxtaposing the parents' upbringings, and showing Fatima build confidence through camping. A four-paneled spread, in vivid cartoon style, is used at the beginning and end of the book. It reflects Fatima's feelings of distress at school and the freedom, happiness, and belonging that she finds in nature. Though the text does not explicitly name the family as Muslim, naming conventions and the family cooking halal beef bacon, provide clues to their background. The family is mentioned as Urdu-speaking; terms are not defined in the text or glossary, centering the characters of the narrative. Though the story can be read as present day, there are nods to the recent past. The last spread illustrates a group of campers with a sign "Brown People Camping" in reference to Tariq's social media initiative. VERDICT Most collections will benefit from this multilayered work of joy and validation.--Ariana Sani Hussain, The Blake School, Wayzata, MN

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Most collections will benefit from this multilayered work of joy and validation.
—Ariana Sani Hussain, The Blake School, Wayzata, MN, for School Library Journal
Ambreen Tariq
Ambreen Tariq is the founder of @BrownPeopleCamping, a social media platform dedicated to promoting greater diversity in our public lands through storytelling and the power of visual representation. She's passionate about youth education and holds board member positions at City Kids Wilderness Project and Green Muslims. She is currently a brand ambassador for many well-known outdoors companies. Her writing has been published in Outside magazine, and Ambreen has been profiled by the New York Times, SELF magazine, CNN Health, Elite Daily, and more. A non-practicing attorney, Ambreen works for the federal government in Washington, DC. This is her first book for children.

Stevie Lewis lives on the road in a van that she mostly built out herself. Striving to live simply and tread lightly on the earth, she gathers inspiration from a variety of places, and she enjoys rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking. After working for several years at DreamWorks Animation, she now illustrates children's books and creates art based on her travels. Follow her adventures @chocosweete.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
March 30, 2021
BISAC categories
JUV039250 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emigration & Immigration
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
JUV032170 - Juvenile Fiction | Sports & Recreation | Camping & Outdoor Activities
Library of Congress categories

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