Camping with Big T: Camp Rex by Molly Idle
SEARCHING FOR AN OUTING TO ENJOY WITH YOUR FRIENDS?
Perhaps the doughty Cordelia should have done a bit more considering ahead of the event. But here she is, in khaki dress and hat, well provisioned, setting out for the wilds with her troop. The fact that her companions are her tea-party acquaintance T. Rex and three of his pre-paleo pals doesn't seem to overly concern the prepossessing Cordelia.
In her best Girl Guide manner, she lines up the prospective campers and reads them the rules of safe camping. Security from unwanted interlopers is not a problem with this brawny crew, but she realizes that proper respect for the environment is something she needs to inculcate in this bunch. She reads from her guidebook:
"REFRAIN FROM DISTURBING THE NATURAL LANDSCAPE. . .
OR ITS INHABITANTS. . . ."
Too late. The dinos snack on poison ivy and T. Rex himself presents her with a souvenir beehive that has, um, come to hand. Soon the troop and leader are running from the swarm and are forced to leap into an icy mountain stream and stay underwater long enough to throw the bees off the scent.
"IF THE OPPORTUNITY PRESENTS ITSELF, THERE'S NOTHING MORE REFRESHING THAN A DIP IN A MOUNTAIN LAKE OR A BIT OF CANOEING."
After an unplanned and hazardous run down the rapids, the group re-groups, with a few fresh trout for dinner dangling from their pockets, to tackle making a campfire and campsite. Cordelia succeeds despite the help of her troop in raising her pup tent, while the others pitch their tents literally, settling for pitching the insufficient rectangles of canvas over their horns or spikes or heads. Whatever.
After making a campfire (T. Rex offers a tree as kindling!), Cordelia lulls her ebullient campers with a singalong and a marshmallow roast (in T.'s case, it's a bag-of-marshmallows roast).
In her sequel to her popular Tea Rex (see review here), Molly Idle's newest, Camp Rex (Viking Books, 2014), takes our mannered Victorian tea party hostess out into the woods with a rowdy group of juvenile dinosaurs, whose naive attempts to follow her oh-so-proper instructions provide for comic relief along the nature trail. Idle's flat and subdued watercolor illustrations make the most of her bulky and impetuous companions, in droll contrast to her heroine's decorous composure at all times.
"SERIOUS CAMPERS ARE AS MUCH AT HOME IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS...
AS THEY ARE IN THEIR OWN BACKYARDS..."
Cordelia pontificates, as in her funny final spread, Idle reveals that these campers have been at home at home at a backyard sleepover the whole time. Publishers Weekly writes "Once again, the deadpan writing and careful compositions work in tandem for maximum comic impact.