"A funny family story packed with mayhem and good spirits."
"Phillips introduces the family via individual, smiling portraits and utilizes colorful paper cut-out illustrations and bold-faced exclamations to capture the characters’ dynamic chemistry and the kooky chaos that ensues."
"The Simple family examines the word "picnic" in a very basic way that will have young ones chuckling."
—School Library Journal
"The result is merry mayhem, as a menagerie of animals, domesticated and not-so, try to get in on the feast."
—The New York Times
PreS-K—The Simple family examines the word "picnic" in a very basic way that will have young ones chuckling. Because the audience is a partner to the joke, as soon as son Ben asks, "What is a picnic?" the mood is set for a funny jaunt outdoors. Phillipps adds to this humorous anticipation with her illustrations resembling flat paper-dolls cutouts with a collage of printed and striped-patterned clothing. Her uncomplicated facial features elicit smiles as an upturned half-circle of a grin quickly turns into a frown while family members lug the picnic gear out to the grass. A bold font introduces basic declarative sentences so that new readers can easily decipher the text with the picture clues. While the picnic falls apart at the end, the idea that a good time can be had anywhere is a genuinely pleasant sentiment.—Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA
Silly humor abounds as a family tries to enjoy a picnic in the park. When Dad proposes a picnic, Mom must explain it to the children: "A picnic is when you pack food in a basket, spread out a blanket, and eat on the ground." Dad, brother Ben and sister Lulu help with the preparations. Lulu doesn't quite get it, packing ice cream in the hamper and the cat in her backpack. They set out with their dog on a leash only to be beset by squirrels, ants, birds and Frisbees; the melted ice cream just compounds all their problems. It is all too much until Ben remembers Mom's definition and comes up with the perfect solution: Picnics require a basket of food and a blanket to sit on, but the park is not compulsory. Phillipps' short declarative sentences with repeating verbs will appeal to emerging readers, and their instant feelings of superiority to the silly family will reinforce their senses of accomplishment. Her cut-paper–collage artwork is childlike and colorful; the Simples have body shapes that will be familiar to children who use scissors to create paper people. Laughter, surprise and chagrin are all expressed through black dots for eyes and lines for mouths. Large fonts and exclamation points add to the little ongoing drama. A funny family story packed with mayhem and good spirits. (Picture book. 3-6)