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Young Fatima Khazi has had a rough week at school. A classmate corrected her English, a boy pulled her braid, and she didn’t do very well on a math test. But she’s excited to go camping for the first time with her parents and older sister!
I loved this book so much! My husband and I are frequent hikers and we’ve been especially active outdoors during the pandemic while most other options are closed or feel unsafe to us. We used to go camping a lot but my husband decided about five years ago that he’s too old to sleep on the ground and I didn’t argue. So now we “camp” in our RV.
On our hikes and in our campgrounds, I’ve absolutely noticed that there is a distinct lack of diversity among hikers. We’re almost all white. I can only guess why that is, but it’s definitely a thing. Author Ambreen Tariq noticed this disparity too and founded #brownpeoplecamping “to promote greater diversity in our public lands and outdoors community.” What better way to encourage diverse communities to enjoy natural beauty than by introducing children to the idea through a picture book?
Fatima is totally relatable. She feels overshadowed by her smart older sister and she doesn’t always feel like she fits in at school. She’s a little nervous about sleeping in a tent, especially when she and her sister spy a “monster” outside the tent in the night. They laugh the next morning when they see what it was. Every camper has had this experience!
I loved that Ms. Tariq gently shows some immigrant struggles through the school teasing and a brief mention that both of Fatima’s parents work two jobs. She also shows that there are ways to meld typically American experiences with immigrant culture. When Fatima wants to try bacon cooked over the campfire, her father obliges and buys beef bacon from a Halal butcher. And what’s a road trip without songs or snacks? Fatima’s family just happens to enjoy singing Bollywood songs and eating samosas.
The illustrations by Stevie Lewis are charming and so much fun. My husband glanced at my computer while I read this and commented on how much he liked them.
I highly recommend this for all readers and hope that it encourages diverse families to experience the great outdoors.
If you liked Fatima’s Great Outdoors, you might also like my review of
- The Arrival by Shaun Tan
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