Monday, June 28, 2004

A Camping Story

For the first nine years of my life, I had a deal with Mother Nature: I stayed on asphalt in the city where I belonged, and she stayed on dirt in the country. Why would anyone want to leave Chinatown? It had everything a kid could want: comic books, cheap snacks and kung fu movies.

Laurence Yep has written three terrific books about "brotherly" love. In Later, Gator, 1997, big brother Teddy buys a baby alligator as a birthday present for little brother, Bobby. His joke backfires when his family and friends become fascinated by the new pet. The two brothers must face down a bully in Cockroach Cooties, 2001. Teddy wittily narrates these stories which are set in present day Chinatown in San Francisco. Their story continutes in Skunk Scout,2003. Teddy's idea of a vacation is an afternoon at the movies so when his uncle invites the boys to go camping, he is sure disaster is close at hand. Soon Teddy, Bobby, and Uncle Curtis are trying to survive the-worst-camping-trip ever. Teddy secretly admires his brainy little brother's inquisitive nature and is striving to be more like Bobby but in the end it is Teddy's "urban" skills that save the day. Good camping fun for summer (or anytime) reading.

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