K-Gr 2-Ruelle uses easy, repetitive language to relate the adventures of a cat in four short chapters. Harry receives a tent as a birthday present and is so delighted that he camps out in the living room for a week. Finally, Harry's mother suggests that he try sleeping outside. After cooking hot dogs and marshmallow sandwiches around a fire with the rest of his family, the feline settles in his tent alone. Before long, scary noises and a frightening shadow drive him back into the house, where he spends the night shivering under his bed. In the morning, he returns to the backyard to find that the monster is only a raccoon, which he summarily shoos away. While beginning readers may enjoy the subject and the language of this book, the watercolor illustrations don't quite work. The cat family is shown without clothes, except for Harry's sister, who wears a nightgown to bed. While Harry imagines that wildcats and wolves lurk around his tent, the picture shows a dog running in the driveway and raccoons rummaging through the trash. The inconsistency between animals that stand upright and live in a house and those that act like animals weakens this otherwise adequate story. Cynthia Rylant's Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night (S & S, 1998) is an easy-to-read camping adventure with more appeal.-Jackie Hechtkopf, Talent House School, Fairfax, VA
Bears aren't the only animals that growl, or so Harry the cat discovers on his first camping trip, in the great wilds of his backyard. As the night grows darker, the noises outside Harry's tent become louder, until he abandons camping for shelter under his bed. The next morning, he and his small sister discover the source of the noises and food-theft-a raccoon. The suspense of the story and Ruelle's friendly watercolors make this Level 2 Holiday House Reader ideal for beginners; kids will race to the finale to find out just what the ringtailed, masked monster really was. Younger children aren't the only campers who will identify with the spookiness of nighttime noises-a tent's thin walls are scant protection from animal growls and the big imaginations of readers of all ages. (Picture book. 6-9) .