Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bailey Goes Camping by Kevin Henkes

Bailey Goes Camping
by Kevin Henkes
Ages 2-5
Topics: camping, siblings, home

Bruce and Betty are bunny scouts and are off on a camping trip. But younger brother Bailey has to stay home because “he’s too little to go”. Bruce and Betty tell him not to feel bad because camping is not “that great” and then proceed to list all the wonderful things they will be doing – eating hotdogs, living in a tent, swimming, fishing, roasting marshmallows. Bailey is upset and inconsolable until Mama explains that Bailey can do all those wonderful camping activities “right here at home.”

This gentle book makes a great bedtime story. The illustrations of the rabbit family are pencil and watercolor in soft pastel hues and appear in centered boxes with large amounts of white space around them. In half of the illustrations, bunny ears, feet, and toys extend beyond the box creating a subtle “stepping out of the picture and into your home” effect. The text is simple and repetitive –the list of camping festivities is repeated three times and makes up the greater part of the book –making this a good choice for younger children. The emotion is straightforward—Bailey looks completely dejected for the first half of the book, particularly as his older siblings dance in celebration as they list all the wonderful things they’ll be doing. He then looks tremendously happy and cute as he eats hotdogs, swims in the bath with sunglasses, and roasts marshmallows over the stove in his red-striped PJs.

Parents will enjoy the cozy family scenes – the bunny parents are clearly very engaged with their youngest child. On the last page, Bailey falls asleep “under the stars”, making this a sweet end to an active day.

Kevin Henkes is a Caldecott winning author and illustrator who has written many wonderful children's books including Kitten's First Full Moon (Caldecott winner 2005), Chrysanthemum, and Wemberly Worried.


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