A little girl learns that being grateful is key to being “a happy camper.”
The opening text shifts awkwardly from present to past tense as the narrator, Kiko, shares that she’s excited and nervous about an upcoming overnight school camping trip. The book’s focus is on Kiko’s shifting feelings about the trip, which she ends up enjoying, in large part because she takes the time to feel grateful for small moments while she also absorbs others’ gratitude and thereby feels appreciated. Unfortunately, while Lyles’ illustrations are warm and inviting, the text is far from accessible and engaging. A character named Jasmine is introduced by name on an early spread, but it’s uncertain who she is, as Kiko’s parents tell their daughter that “this trip is for you, Jasmine, and all your classmates and Ms. Cooper.” Is Jasmine a classmate? This isn’t clarified until her third mention several spreads later. Later, a massive text block set against a cloud of steam rising from a cooking pot at the campsite defines what grateful means. This didactic, wordy moment seems downright concise compared to the three-page “reader’s note” at the book’s end. Kiko’s name and physical appearance suggest that she’s of Asian descent, but her parents are white-appearing.
Thanks, but no thanks. (Picture book. 4-8)