Written in folksy kidspeak, this starts out as What Pa Cooked Up in Place of a Camping Trip--pitching a tent in the backyard and disconnecting the utilities--and turns into an energy-conservation rally. From the aborted camping expedition on (""Do you have a pan for your cooking?"" asks Ma), the kids are stumble-bums who are made to feel foolish while Ma tolerantly, Pa patronizingly comes to the rescue. (""He tousled our heads, mine and John's."") A handy neighborhood skunk sets off one train of events, the boys' experiment with green food coloring--to catch chlorophyll from the sun--triggers another (remember those little green men?). Keeping busy, they build a hideout in a tree (which know-it-all Pa spots); go fishing--and return in the next sentence, since the point's going to be how-to-sun-dry-fish; and turn an ill-advised cave--with guess who's help--into a useful root cellar. When last seen they've won a newspaper energy-conservation contest and enjoyed ""a broadening experience."" Yuk.