Monday, October 7, 2013

Into the Outdoors by Susan Gal

Into the Outdoors by Susan Gal

Rating: 4.5 stars

What's a concept book? As I'm tip-toeing beyond the world of reading children's books into the world of writing them, I've got to know these things.  So I figured I'd educate you as well.  It's an informational children's book that takes a single category--numbers, the alphabet, colors--and focuses on that.

Those concept books are pretty common (betcha you can think of a dozen); one on prepositions is not.

But that's exactly what Into the Outdoors is, and it's a good read for parents and kids.  But it is also a quality, lesson-filled book for teachers to know about when they teach prepositions.  Even though I grabbed the book because of its cover (I try not to judge by a cover, but...well...I'm only human), the book turned out to be a whole lot more than I expected.

We're going camping!  Leaving the city down in the valley, we head up the mountain.
We drive over a bridge and under the towering trees.  At last we arrive in the great outdoors.

Each preposition, those words that "help children know where they are in the world," is highlighted.  The story is cute, the lesson plan possibilities endless.

The trail winds around the lake...
But the illustrations!  That's what got me.  For some reason--was I just feeling particularly nostalgic that day?--they felt like they were straight from my family camping days from 30 years ago.  Dark woods, bright streams, a wood-panel grocery-getter (a.k.a. station wagon) filled with way too much stuff, big brown hiking boots with red laces, and two happy campers.

Like my family, the one in the book drives to their campsite, pitches the tent, and then goes off on a hike.  Following them along the way are some curious animal-friends: a bear, a fox, a porcupine, and a chipmunk.  In almost every page you see those animals peering at the family, with the older boy skipping ahead and the mom carrying the younger boy in the backpack.  The younger boy is the only one who sees the animals, and the looks they exchange are super cute.  In one page the bear sneaks up and quietly replaces the little boy's fallen hat as the family sits atop the mountain, soaking in the view.

A great book, for many reasons.  Makes me want to go take a hike (and use lots of prepositional phrases along the way)!

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