We’re Roughing it this Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I love taking walks out in nature, breathing in fresh air, listening to the musical symphony of the birds and insects, hugging a tree or two, spreading out a blanket to enjoy a picnic beside in a serene setting. I’m there! But pitch a tent, hand me a sleeping bag, and tell me that these are my accommodations for the night, and you’ll see me run like I’ve got a crocodile snapping at my heels. According to the dictionary, accommodations means something that meets a need; a convenience.  Let’s take a look at Leslie’s List of Basic Needs.

  • A comfortable bed at least one foot above the ground (higher is, of course, appreciated).
  • One deep pillow and a soft, quiet blanket.
  • Real walls that don’t flap.
  • A window with a screen to keep out bugs.
  • A door that locks with a latch or key and NOT with a zipper.
  • A sink with clean, drinkable, running water.
  • A genuine toilet – NOT an outhouse or a bucket.
  • An outlet (This is a big one) to plug in my hairdryer.

I could go on, but to any hardcore campers out there, I probably sound like a princess.
No apologies. This is who I am.

Yes, I have been camping. Twice officially, and one time that probably doesn’t count. More on that later.

Camping fiasco #1 My sleeping bag fell in a stream and bloated up with smelly water. With nothing to sleep on, I sat up all night. The evening brought a thunderstorm. Rain pelted. The tent sprung a leak JUST over my sleeping bag but not over the sleeping bags of my two tentmates.

Camping fiasco #2  I slept in the family car with my dad and sister. Due to my father’s long legs, we kept the back hatch down so he could stretch out, and the mosquitos could fly in with easy access to the all-night ‘Leslie Buffet.’ In the morning, I sported what looked like the plague. People kept their distance.

Camping fiasco #3 (The third unofficial camping trip.) I slept in a cabin–a seriously rustic cabin–that provided a sink barely big enough to wash one hand in at a time, a filthy mirror, cracked cement floors, and a sagging mattress (more of a hammock, really). Forget what I said earlier, I’m totally counting this one as a camping experience.

All of these fond memories bring me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of a camping story that takes place, not in a tent or cabin, but in a camper trailer. Hang on to your seats, you’re in for a rollicking adventure with Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee!

Title – A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee

Written and illustrated by  – Chris Van Dusen

Published  – Chronicle Books – 2003

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8. Scratch that. This book is suitable for all ages.

Topics – Camping, stories in rhyme, bears, sticky situations.

Opening – Early one morning at 7:03,

Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee,

packed up the camper and hitched up the load,

hopped in the Rambler and then hit the road.

They drove to the mountains, far from the sea,

for two nights of camping (or possibly three).

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Mr. Magee and his trusty dog, Dee, are enjoying a peaceful camping trip when along comes a lumbering, marshmallow-loving bear and the excitement begins. The next thing the two campers know, they are plunging down a mountain, racing down a river, and teetering on the edge of a waterfall! How will Mr. Magee and Dee find their way out of this slippery situation?

Why do I like this book? Without a doubt, if anyone can make a camping story, even one wrought with hair-raising, edge-of-your-seat action, sound like a must-do outing, it’s Chris Van Dusen. You’ll come across situations in this story you’ll swear no one could escape from or survive. But, with his brilliant imagination and true-blue gift for storytelling as well as his detail-rich, color-filled, high-energy illustrations, Mr. Van Dusen gets Mr. Magee and his little dog out of some pretty crazy scrapes. It’s what I call magical!

Want to learn a little more about Chris Van Dusen? Click HERE.

ACTIVITY TIME  – How to have some camping fun indoors.

  • Clear some space in your living room to pitch a tent.
  • No tent? No problem! String up some strands of twinkle lights, spread out your blankets or sleeping bags, and pretend you’re lying under the glow of a million shimmering stars. Of course, you could make a cozy blanket tent with chairs, too.
  • Pull on your PJs.
  • Grab a flashlight, dim the room lights, and tell ghost stories (or jokes).
  • Broil or boil up hot dogs.
  • And for the vegetarians… make veggie burgers!
  • Make S’mores for dessert.
  • Campfire? Gotta have one. Pile up a few small logs or empty paper towel rolls, and use red and yellow tissue paper for the flames. Add a glow from below with battery-operated tea lights.

The perks? Oh, yes! Indoor camping’s got ’em!

Walls that don’t flap, doors that lock, outlets, no bugs, and indoor plumbing.

Need more ideas?

  • Everything you need to have an indoor camping party HERE.
  • 20 imaginative camp-perfect crafts for kids HERE.

I hope you’ll stop back on Monday to read my poem about… Camping!

See you then!


17 thoughts on “We’re Roughing it this Perfect Picture Book Friday!

    • After reading your picture book, Don’t Feed the Bear, I sort of figured you enjoyed camping. I have to confess that staying in a hotel is my preference, too. The part that makes me feel like I’m roughing it is when there’s no ice machine in the hall, no turndown service with a mint on my pillow, and I have to drive to the nearest restaurant for a meal. What can I say, I need to feel comfortable.


  1. Leslie, My neighbor says “4-stars” is roughing it! 🙂 Sounds like a fun book! Thanks for featuring it.
    Camper camping can be fun – as long as it isn’t one with tent fabric that – you got it – leaks. We traded that one in for a solid fiberglass camper. It had a bathroom (with shower) & outlets(!!), a kitchen & real elevated beds. We explored all of Western California, Oregon, & Washington and all the Western National Parks. Scariest thing was having the camper push the Cheeroke Jeep down a steep incline in Idaho. So, we upgraded to a Suburban (which didn’t even know it had a camper behind it!) Enjoy your livingroom camping!! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • That fiberglass camper of yours with the full bathroom, outlets, and the works sounds like a doable solution to camping. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t mind that at all. I think you’ll love the book. Chris Van Dusen has a special gift when it comes to writing stories that delight all ages. Hugs.


  2. Leslie, I am laughing so hard, not just at how you described your experiences (sorry for all that though)but b/c I am sitting outside in my kidlit tent, right after it rained on a 93 degree day. It’s humid as hell in Philly and I just got bitten by a mosquito even though I’m inside tent (I must have let him in). I am thirsty and eventually sweaty, but I LOVE CAMPING so much and am grateful that at least I live in the woods. This looks like a great book, and I like that you review a book that is older. I will see if I can find it used in good condition. Have a great weekend all and stay well! See ya Monday.😁✌🏼

    Liked by 1 person

    • From what you described, it sounds like you’re enjoying a version of my camping memories. Hot and humid air mixed with mosquitos with a serving of rain. I have tried to like camping, but it seems each time I head into the wilderness, I come back with memories that require ten years to sound funny to me. I’m glad you enjoy camping. There’s something serenely marvelous about being out in nature. Maybe one day, I’ll give it another try and have a better-than-expected experience.


  3. Ah, my friend, we have pretty similar opinions about roughing it. Why go through all that time, expense, and work to go AWAY from our comfy accommodations, right? 🙂 Thanks for the laughs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Home is a pretty great place to be. If I’m going to spend time away, I simply NEED certain things that camping can’t promise me. Incidentally, that middle-grade novel I’m writing, which I texted you about, takes place on a class camping trip. I have so many memories to pull from. And the main character? She’s a girl with a snarky personality and a dry sense of humor who would rather help her mom clean house than go camping. Sound like someone you know??? Hugs, Ann. I miss you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your camping memories exhibited the unpredictable and adventurous spectrum of life but perhaps they helped you evolve into a wiser version of yourself enhancing your survival instincts. Wonderful post & well articulated really!


  5. As the old saying goes, ‘Three times a charm.’ Maybe if I try camping a fourth time, the weather will cooperate, the tent won’t spring a leak, the mosquitoes won’t be hungry, and the outhouse won’t be a shack. I don’t regret those camping trips. After all, I gained some fun, if not funny, memories, and stories to share. I did learn one thing, as far as survival instincts are concerned: When packing a flashlight, it’s important to bring batteries. Thanks for the high praise on my post, Sid.


  6. Pingback: Leslie’s Camping Fiasco Meets The Monday Poems | Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

  7. I, too, am a failed camper. An attempt to spend one night in a tent in our backyard went south quickly when my younger sister and I were convinced a wild animal was poking at the canvas (turns out it was our cat, Nigel). I will have to be a vicarious camper through Van Dusen’s Camping Spree!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you are able to get a copy of this incredible story of a camping trip I’m happy to read about but wouldn’t want to experience. It’s truly a fast-paced, high-energy, rhyming story that will keep you glued to the edge of your chair. I love your camping memory with your sister and cat. It’s always nice when the animal we think is as frightening as a bear turns out to be something small and sweet. I’m glad you visited my blog today. Thank you. 🙂


Your comments are welcomed.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s