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Two picture books that may inspire a family camping trip


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Mar 22, 2024
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Eclipse by Andy Rash (Scholastic Press, 40 pages, ages 4-8). ”Two months ago, I learned there would be a total solar eclipse,” the narrator begins. ”A month ago, I picked out the perfect place and time to watch the eclipse.” The countdown is on as he orders official eclipse glasses a week before the eclipse, travels with his dad a day before to a campsite near the big event, packs up to go to the perfect viewing site an hour before, and arrives a minute before. ”Now, Dad and I are in the dark.” Following this climactic moment, he and his dad will sit in traffic, finally get home, and savor their memories. 

I learned from reading this book that there’s a total solar eclipse in the United States on April 8! It looks like my school will be at about 90-95% totality, occurring right at dismissal, which could very well spell the end of the world. To prepare, I plan to read this fun and informative book to as many classes as I can. I liked the format of story, placing the eclipse as the central event, with the past and future referenced from the moment of totality. There’s additional information about different types of eclipses at the end, and the endpapers have a map showing annular and total eclipses in the US from now until 2048. I couldn’t see the path the April 8 one will take over Massachusetts, because it was hidden by the taped-down dust jacket.

Climbing the Volcano: A Journey in Haiku by Curtis Manley, illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann (Neal Porter Books, 48 pages, ages 4-8). A boy narrates his family’s adventure to climb South Sister, a dormant volcano in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, using haiku poetry to tell the story. It’s an all-day hike, up past the tree line, into the snow, and finally to the summit! The descent is easier, and they finish the day back at their campsite for dinner and a well-earned rest. There’s additional information at the end about South Sister, the Cascades, what to bring on a hike, the flora and fauna encountered in the book, and haiku.

I love Jennifer Mann’s illustrations; just like in The Camping Trip, she makes you want to get out in nature. And of course, haiku is all about nature, making it an excellent format for describing the journey. This haiku doesn’t follow the 5-7-5 rule that’s often taught in schools, so read the end material to prepare if you’re reading with kids who know that format. 
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