Setting up the tent on a carpet of pine needles.
Hiking to the music of waterfalls.
Sipping hot tea around the campfire, watching sparks drift beneath the night sky.
Ahhh! There’s nothing like a camping adventure. Here are a few great outings to whet your appetite.
Come Home Already!, written by Jory John, illustrated by Benji Davies
published in 2017 by Harper Collins
Duck and Bear are great friends in the tradition of Frog & Toad, Warton & Morton — all the great opposites-attract duos.
When thoroughly-social Duck discovers that Bear has headed out on a fishing trip…alone…for a week…without him!!!…he develops a serious case of FOMO. What on earth will he do without his pal for a whole week?!
After a valiant but short-lived effort at minding his own business, Duck sets out to join Bear’s camp-out. Where he discovers Bear having a less-than-ideal time of it, truth be told. Hilarious, heartwarming, fun for ages 2 and up.
The Golden Glow, written and illustrated by Benjamin Flouw, translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou
first published in France 2017; English edition 2018 by Tundra Books
I fell in love with Fox in this adventurous, Earth-friendly tale. He’s a botanist, his home crowded with green, growing things, and just now he’s read about a plant that has his whiskers twitching with intrigue!
The “golden glow” is rare indeed, growing only on snowy mountaintops. Fox gathers his gear and sets off on a plant-hunting expedition.
It takes some doing to find this little dazzler. Once he’s spotted it, though, Fox feels he really shouldn’t pick such a beauty. So how does he add it to his collection? A jaunty, European vibe accentuates the delights of this gem for ages 4 and up.
Flo & Wendell Explore, written and illustrated by William Wegman
published in 2014 by Dial Books for Young Readers
William Wegman has been creating books starring these Weimaraner dogs for decades. They are in a class of their own!
This go-round sees Flo and Wendell headed out for a brilliant camping trip. All the iconic bits must be experienced — pitching the tent, fishing, canoeing on the river, hiking, toasting marshmallows.
For inexperienced campers like these two, though, mishaps abound. Thanks to perseverance and one handy hatchet, all’s well in the end — including one surprising little twist! Completely delightful for ages 2 and up.
Watch Out for the Crocodile, written by Lisa Moroni, illustrated by Eva Eriksson, translated by Julia Marshall
first published in Sweden in 2013; English edition 2014 by Gecko Press
Eva Eriksson’s stand-out illustration work shines its amiable, sunny light right from the get-go in this tender, imaginative, father-daughter camping story coming to us from Sweden.
Dad’s a fairly-preoccupied fellow in Tora’s estimation, ever working on that blinkin’ computer and engaged in boring-talk on his cell phone. Work, work, work. So today is a colossally exciting day, the first day of his vacation! And they are going camping!
Tora’s rambunctious imagination beams a path before her, making Dad’s careful preparations and ordinary ways seem hopelessly dull. While she’s busy spotting anacondas and giraffes in the Swedish forest, her dad has eyes only for mundane creatures — woodpeckers and squirrels. Sheesh.
In the end, though, lounging atop a rocky outcropping, munching toasted hot dogs and gazing across the pristine lake, Dad ups his game, leading Tora to conclude he’s the “best Dad in the world.” Imaginative, endearing, Swedish kid lit for ages 3 and up.
Sadie Braves the Wilderness, written by Yvonne Pearson, illustrated by Karen Ritz
published in 2017 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press
For those of us who love Minnesota’s North Shore and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), the opening pages of this book are like a wander through a beloved family photo album.
Sadie and her family drive up north to the BWCA for several days of hiking, blueberry picking, canoeing, and general dawdling about in one of the most pristine wildernesses left in the U.S.
The majesty of this scenery, the satisfaction of strenuous hiking, and the familiar adventures of camping with young children ease their way into the pages of this utterly-Minnesotan picture book. Ages 2 and up.
Monster & Mouse Go Camping, written by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Jared Chapman
published in 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
While Mouse is a keen camper, his buddy Monster is a bit chicken about sleeping in the woods and telling scary stories. Nevertheless, Mouse’s promise of “lots of yummy food” convinces Monster to give it a whirl.
Problematically, Monster’s ideas about which things are good to eat means that when these two finally arrive at their campsite, most of the gear is in his belly. Oh dear!
Find out the surprising way these two pals solve their problem in this funny story, pitch-perfect for kids ages 3 and up.
Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail, written and illustrated by Jennifer Thermes
published in 2018 by Abrams Books for Young Readers
Finally, this fantastic, true account of Emma “Grandma” Gatewood, who at age 67 — 67 mind you!! — through-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, becoming the first woman to do so, solo. And then did it again. And again.
My goodness, she inspires me!
The year was 1955. Emma had raised 11 children on a hardscrabble farm. During those trying years, she’d seek restoration by taking a solitary ramble in the nearby hills.
So, when her kids were grown and her apron-strings free, Emma set off on her epic hike, an incredibly challenging venture through difficult terrain, beset by bad weather, wild animals, aching joints, and worn-out sneakers. It took her just 4-1/2 months to trek 2,160 miles, up and down mountains upon mountains, until she arrived at the top of Mt. Katahdin, the end of the trail.
Thermes tells Emma’s story engagingly, with vivid detail yet not too much of it for young adventurers. It’s accompanied by her friendly, up-beat illustrations. Colorful maps are sprinkled throughout the text to give us an up-close look at her route, and extensive Author’s Notes fill in lots more detail about Emma and the Appalachian Trail itself.
Read Emma’s story and start dreaming about your own hiking challenge! Ages 5 and up.
In the mood for more of the great outdoors? You can find more Outdoor Adventures here.