by Jennifer K. Mann
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Ernestine, maybe 5-7 years old, is excited for her first camping trip with her aunt and cousin. Cousin Samantha is a pro, but to Ernestine, fish in the lake, heavy hiking backpacks, and tofu hot dogs aren’t exactly what she was imagining. The last straw is that she can’t fall asleep and misses her dad. Finally she wakes up Samantha and Aunt Jackie and they all go look at the stars until Ernestine is sleepy, and falls asleep no problem.
Ernestine is so completely relatable! It’s easy to romanticize camping and then recoil at the reality if you’re not used to it. But she grows over the course of the story, which is a picture book but almost a graphic novel hybrid. I also loved that Ernestine and her family are Black; since there is a history of outdoor spaces, especially swimming facilities, being off-limits to African-Americans, it is extra important to have representation there. The only reason I docked it a star is that the illustrations didn’t wow me. But overall a solid story and sorely-needed diversity.