Snyder, Laurel

Charlie & Mouse Outdoors

(2) 1-3 Illustrated by Emily Hughes. Their fourth outing (most recently Charlie & Mouse Even Better, rev. 5/19) takes the siblings into the Great Outdoors for a family camping trip...but first a "Boring" (the title of chapter 1) car ride. The three brief chapters that follow include a hike ("A hike! A hike! It was time for a hike!"), encounters with wildlife, and burnt marshmallows. The boys' sharp observations and imaginations contribute to the entertainment of their parents, themselves, and readers. What begins as Charlie's doldrums-fighting, ho-hum, what's-out-the-car-window story ("Once upon a time...there was a small white house near a great green mountain") ends with an epic battle between a dragon and a hawk. Amusing surprises appear at every turn (a pig in the woods?) along with straightforward and relatable expressions of ­emotion. Regarding their collapsed tent: "'That,' said Charlie, 'was a little bit scary.' 'Yes,' said Mouse. 'It was. But it was also a lot of fun.'" The parents give their kids space to play without intrusion (unless it's for food; at one point offstage Dad offers a granola bar, and who doesn't want to stop for French fries?), and Hughes's amusingly detailed but never-too-busy illustrations occasionally, unobtrusively indicate Mom and Dad's own story line.


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