SLJ’s April issue has an interview with Sara Pennypacker, author of one of my favorite new series Clementine. I enjoyed reading about her background in visual arts and how her family factors into the stories. She seems as lovely and warm as her writing.
Pictures from Our Vacation by Lynne Rae Perkins.
This picture book by Newbery Award winner, Perkins offers a quiet look at a trip to the family farm. Before the trip begins, a brother and sister each get cameras that print tiny pictures as well as journals to record their trip. Upon reaching the farm, the children play badminton, then get rained into the house for several days, and then find the lake. When their cousins arrive at the farm, they forget all about using their cameras and just have fun. It isn’t until they are on their way back home that they realize the photographs don’t really tell the full story of their trip. Only the pictures in their minds can do that.
This is such an accurate portrayal of a family reunion from the point of view of the children. I love the girl’s daydreams and vivid imaginings brought to life in the illustrations. Her boredom with the rain, joy at finding the lake, and their dismay at having to wear a dress to a memorial service all ring perfectly true. My favorite description is about the old badminton rackets which were “shaped like potato chips because they had been left out in the barn for so long.” Can’t you just see it? Perkin’s language immediately describes not just that specific thing but also enhances the feeling of dust and age around the farm from a childlike perspective.
This is a quiet book. There is no tension, no thrilling action, nothing like that. It is a glimpse into the summers that we had as children and that we hope we are giving our own children as well. Those boring times to fill with their own thoughts, joy at discovering cousins and playing for hours, and a sense of family that deepens with this sort of visit.
I highly recommend this book. It could be used upon return to school after summer vacation to inspire children to create pictures and short descriptions of their own experiences. Or it is a lovely look forward at this time of year to summer and family travel.