Raj and the Best Vacation Ever! by Sebastien Braun. Templar Books, 2021. 9781536217056
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Animal fiction
What did you like about the book? Raj and his dad are going camping, and it promises to be the best vacation ever. They pack up the car and and finally make it to the campsite when it’s dark out. Dad barely manages to set up the tent, fails at getting the stove to work, but they still have a great, albeit long, hike to the top of the mountain the next day. After another long hike, with no water, it feels to Raj like it’s the worst vacation ever. But they soldier on and find a canoe to rent. When Dad misses yet another sign, they almost go down a waterfall. Luckily the bear family, who has offered several times to help, finally gets a “Yes, thank you!” from Raj’s dad (who has refused all of the previous offers of help) and the story ends with them singing all together around the campfire.
It’s a classic and adorably illustrated story of a hapless parent trying to bond with their child. Raj and his dad are tigers, and all of the other characters are animals too. Observant readers will pick up all of the little humorous details that point to Dad not knowing what he is doing (self-help books, a virtual mountain of supplies, his inability to see signs, etc.). Kids will enjoy the maps of trails not taken, the other animals who appear throughout the story on their own hikes, and the clearly friendly overtures of the bear family. I loved the saturated color palette of the digital art and the combination of graphic panels, winding maps and full bleed spreads, with speech bubbles and first person narration by Raj. This is a sweet story to share before an epic camping adventure or at story time.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? For camping/vacation themed story time and family reading, for ages 3-7.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: May 19, 2021