Thursday, November 8, 2018

Timo goes camping by Victoria Allenby, illustrated by Dean Griffiths

I admit that when I saw this I was... skeptical. It's an odd little book, with illustrations that remind me of Michael Hague's oil paintings for Wind in the Willows, fairly dense text, albeit in a large font, and a slim, hardcover layout that just felt... odd. However, I ended up being charmed by Timo and his friends - which is a great bonus of Cybils, because you try different things!

Suki, a bouncy grey squirrel, has a great idea - the friends will go on a camping trip! Bogs the toad will sing, Rae the badger will do their engineering, and Hedgewick will cook. Timo, a gentle brown bunny, isn't so sure. He doesn't know how to camp - and neither do any of the others! So he takes himself to the library and finds just the right books. He takes lots of notes. Now Timo is ready, even though he's still nervous. When the camping trip starts, so do the disasters. Suki isn't quite as knowledgeable as she thought and when Timo tries to help she makes fun of him, as well as the others.

Finally, Timo has had enough. He tells Suki how upset and hurt he is and gets a surprising response. Suki apologizes and the others talk about how they feel; some of them were hurt by the teasing too and some don't care. In the end, Suki admits they all have a role to play, and Timo's notes and knowledge from the library turn out to be useful.

Paintings of the friends and their mishaps are scattered about the pages of this slim volume. While there's a definite moral pointed, there's just as much story as well and the lesson is given in a gentle, natural way. I also appreciated that while it's shown that Timo needed to speak up, Suki is just as at fault for not asking if her teasing hurt before assuming that it was ok.

Verdict: While I don't see this appealing to a broad range of my readers, it's too low-key and gentle a story for most of them, plus the text is fairly challenging, I definitely have an audience who will love these. I have a section of young readers who are very fluent and whose parents want them to read quiet stories along these lines and the kids enjoy them as well. Definitely putting on my list.

ISBN: 9781772780406; Published March 2018 by Pajama Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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