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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Into the Outdoors, written and illustrated by Susan Gal. Knopf, Random House. 2011. $18.99 ages 2 and up

"We pitch our tent
among the trees
and set off along
the hiking trail."

It could be a book written to teach young listeners about prepositions; a grammar lesson, if you will. No, it is so much more than that!

It is, in truth, a family celebration of being in the outdoors. We are watchers as the family prepares for their adventure. Dad straps the camping essentials to the top of the station wagon while Mom and the kids haul everything else they might need. It is packed into the car in readiness for departure. It's easy to see from the start that the little one has a passion for bears. We watch as he unpacks the suitcase that holds his favorite teddy. Anyone familiar with camping will recognize the many necessities...a canteen, campstove, cooler and more.

The trip takes them up into the hills and under the trees where they find a perfect spot to set up their tent. It isn't long until they are off exploring and basking in the beauty that nature affords; pinecones, fallen logs, a pristene lake, a lovely waterfall, and animals and birds everywhere.

It's fun to see the boy lead the family along the path that runs beside a lake, with inquisitive animals following at a distance. They are very interested in these visitors to their habitat. The day is a delight, the campfire warm and inviting, and the night under the stars cozy and comforting.

There is so much to see and appreciate about the charcoal on paper artwork, with the artist's addition of collage elements. My eyes darted from one delightful image to the next. I know that young readers will do the same. Her use of light is inspiring and nowhere better than in the gentle glow of the night lantern that radiates from the tent in the forest's darkness.

Lovely...a perfect reminder of a shared family outing.

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