Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Getting Away From It All: Monster & Mouse Go Camping by Deborah Underwood

Mouse is psyched. She interrupts her friend Monster in standard mode, scarfing up a snack, with her big idea.

"Let's go camping!" she said.

"What's camping?" Monster asked.

"You walk in the woods. You sleep in a tent. You tell spooky stories." says Mouse.

Camping sounds scary, but Mouse says she'll take care of Monster. She also promises something Monster will love--tasty camp-out treats! Monster is ready to go right away, but Mouse makes a simple list--tent, two sleeping bags, food, and a lantern lamp. Monster loads up his red wagon, and they are OFF! 

Mouse and Monster walk deep into the woods. Mouse hears the sound of a stream and offers to go ahead to reconnoiter. While Monster waits, he gets a little peckish.

Monster had a snack.

He eats the lamp.

Mouse returns and the two campers trudge down the trail. Mouse offers to go ahead and scout for campground markers. Monster agrees to wait, but he soon gets the munchies and chows down on their sleeping bags.

Following the trail markers, Mouse spies a hill ahead and offers to go up and check it out. Monster stays with the wagon, but while he waits, he wolfs down the tent. Mouse returns to announce she's found the perfect place to camp atop the hill.

Let's set up the tent!" said Mouse.

"Uh-oh," said Monster.

Monster has to 'fess up that he's eaten the sleeping bags and the tents. He's so sorry.

Mouse magnanimously says not to fret. It'll be fun to sleep on the grass under the stars, she says.

Hand me the lamp so I can find our food."

Ooops! Monster assures Mouse that the one thing he did not eat was their food. But this time it's Mouse's turn to confess a mea culpa.

"I forgot the food." she admits.

Mouse's campout is not panning out as promised! It's getting chilly and dark, and they are starving. But then Mouse spots a glimmer of light and smells something very much like roasting s'mores ahead. It's a family of campers, with a campfire, camp lamp, and cozy tents, and Dad is telling a scary story in a spooky voice:

"But then," Dad was saying, dramatically, "a terrifying monster came...."

"Excuse me," Monster says politely, stepping into the clearing....

All's well that ends well, as Monster appears the flickering firelight and the human family makes a hasty escape in their SUV. It would be a shame to let that cozy campsite go to waste, so Mouse and Monster have a classic campout after all, in Deborah Underwood's charming new picture book, Monster and Mouse Go Camping (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018). Mouse and Monster are the usual odd couple of unlikely buddies in a clever story in which Underwood drolly sets up a denouement in which Monster's sudden appearance clears the campsite in a trice. Underwood's delightfully daffy story is ably assisted by noted artist Jared Chapman, whose cartoon illustrations in comic color and line tell the story with stylish visual humor.

Underwood is the seasoned author of many popular picture books, including The Quiet Book and sequels, and Here Comes the Easter Cat and sequels (see reviews here), and Jared Chapman is the noted illustrator of Steve, Raised by Wolves Vegetables in Underwear and Veggies with Wedgies (read reviews here).

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