Camp Rex

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Camp Rex Book Poster Image
Funny tale of kids and dinosaurs on a camping trip.

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Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value

Some actual info about camping, for instance that it's a good idea to stick together and avoid poisonous plants. Could serve as a good introduction to camping for kids who are about to try it for the first time. Also models consulting printed matter to get info. The kids carry a guidebook and consult it before they head off and while on the trail.

Positive messages

Camping is fun! There are ways to stay safe on the trail.

Positive role models & representations

The characters are all game and undaunted by difficulty. Ultimately, they all have a good time.

Violence & scariness

One sequence illustrates spooky stories around a campfire and being kept awake by night sounds in the wild. Bees chase campers.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Camp Rex is written by Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Molly Idle (for Flora and the Flamingo), and is a sequel to her very successful Tea Rex -- same characters, same formula, but different setting. In this book, the kids and the dinosaurs head off on a camping trip. The text is written as an upbeat wilderness guide: "Learning about the local flora and fauna can be great fun! So long as you take care to avoid any dangerous plants ... and refrain from disturbing the natural landscape ... or its inhabitants." But the art depicts a host of things going wrong, such as angry bees and overturned canoes. On some pages, it's harder to see how the art is a punch line to the text, but there's plenty of detail to enjoy, and the book has a warm, playful feel. Could serve as a fun introduction to camping.

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What's the story?

A girl, her little brother, and their dinosaur friends consult a wilderness guidebook and hike off to go camping. Though the guidebook provides tips on what to enjoy and what to avoid, it's often at odds with their actual experience. They stumble into poison ivy, get chased by bees, and tip over in their canoe. In the end, they hike back to their own backyard and roast marshmallows more comfortably over a grill.

Is it any good?

CAMP REX is funny, and the humor stems from the disconnect between the chipper description of camping with the uncomfortable or hapless scenes depicted in the art. On some pages kids may have to look twice to figure out how the illustration comments on the text, but on most, the humor's evident. For instance, the girl stuffs marshmallows in her ears to muffle the off-key songs around the campfire.

Overall,Camp Rex has a warm, upbeat feel, and the characters and scenes are really appealing. The mishaps are minor, camping looks like rollicking fun, and the friendship between the kids and dinosaurs is clear.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about camping and the skills necessary to camp in the wild. How do you stay safe?

  • If you read Tea Rex, how does this book compare? Is it as funny? How does the outdoor setting compare with the indoor one for laughs?

  •  

  • What are some of the modern conveniences you have in your home that you wouldn't have if you went camping?

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