CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 27. . . .March 16, 2018
Timo Goes Camping.
Victoria Allenby. Illustrated by Dean Griffiths.
Toronto, ON: Pajama Press, 2018.
48 pp., hardcover, $12.95.
Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.
Review by Sadie Tucker.
Reviewed from F&Gs.
“It was pretty funny, though,” said Suki. She jumped up, waving a stick over her head. “I am Hedgewick, King of the River! Take that! And that! And woooooah!” She flopped onto the ground, kicking her paws in the air.
Timo wanted to say that it had been scary, not funny. He wanted to tell Suki that she was being unkind. But everyone else was laughing. Hedgewick smiled too, but he did not meet anyone’s eyes.
I just hope that I do not fall into any lakes, Timo thought.
In this wonderful addition to the Timo series! Timo’s friends have decided to go camping, despite the fact that none of them have gone before. Timo, as usual, has his misgivings, but he agrees to go along with his friends’ plan (also as usual). To prepare, he goes to the library and studies camping. During the trip, the team encounters a number of challenges which they overcome using teamwork and Timo’s newfound knowledge. A damper is put over the trip as one of the friends, Suki, teases the others when they make a mistake.
Timo Goes Camping is a great book for newly independent readers who are looking for a bit of a challenge. There is a good amount of novel vocabulary, but this is well-balanced with clear writing and supportive illustrations. There are two major themes in this story.
Timo is a risk-averse bunny, but, under peer-pressure, he is always willing to face a challenge. Tackling a problem head-on is never easy, but Timo Goes Camping provides a good strategy for feeling better prepared – research. While the representation of a library is a wee bit antiquated, the value of research (in whatever form it takes) is not. A lovely touch is the illustration of a table of contents. For some readers, this may be their first introduction to navigating an information book. The inclusion of some basic camping knowledge will inspire many readers to do some research of their own.
The group’s experience with Suki’s teasing is deftly handled and rings true. She has the best of intentions, but her jokes are not well received by their target. Timo wants to say something but doesn’t. The story highlights how vulnerable Suki’s jokes make him feel, even when he is not the butt of them. Of particular note is the inclusion of subtle cues, such as avoiding eye contact or drooping shoulders, indicating that the targets of Suki’s jokes are not pleased. After everything comes to a head, the friends also set clear boundaries as to what they are OK being teased about.
The colourful illustrations are engaging and do a good job of supporting the text. As expected with a book intended for independent readers, the pictures do not provide explicit cues as to the text’s meaning. They do, however, do a good job of bringing the story to life and drawing in the reader. While the characters are sufficiently expressive, it would have been nice to see a little bit more. It would have been particularly impactful, for example, to see a visual depiction of the embarrassment felt by the individuals being teased.
Overall, Timo Goes Camping is a fun story that skillfully combines camping know-how with emotional intelligence.
Sadie Tucker is a children’s librarian with the Vancouver Public Library.
© CM Association
University of Manitoba
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