Book Review Monday: Tommy’s Camping Adventure


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He’s like a huge-headed modern-day Cinderella.

Tommy’s Camping Adventure or, Who Would You Leave in the Woods to Die?

It’s a conundrum for the ages; one that philosophers and poets have wrestled with for centuries:

What is my camp job?

Of course, this question is really getting at the core value inherent in modern American society: “How can I be useful to my fellow humans and contribute to the greater good?”

Right, America? Right?

Oh, wait.

I’m pretty sure it’s: “Every man for himself, and women, quit whining.”

In this mid-20th-century fable, the Perfect American Family is camping, and Young Tommy wants his own camp job. He stumbles through the first part of the tale attempting to find one, only to discover that not only are all the jobs taken, but he totally sucks at them.

Is everyone working at their traditionally-assigned gender roles? Yes? Then let’s go!

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Big Sister Ann is sweeping dirt. Dad is chopping nothing with the blunt side of the ax. Mom is already cooking even though she has not unloaded the groceries. Tommy, you don’t want these people to assign you a task. Sweet wagon, though.

“Tommy wanted only one thing–a special camp job that he could do.”

Tommy, you are insane. This kid looks to be about five or so, it’s hard to tell from the size of his head, but what kind of freak is he? Dad builds the fires, Mom cooks the eggs, brother Dave handles the tackle, sister Ann sweeps the camp. Tommy, it’s your job to stay out of the way.

The plot takes a turn when The Millers (I know, right?) head out on a short explore. Tommy spends time observing the natural world while the rest of the family focuses solely on the destination. In this obvious twist, we can see what will happen: they will get lost, and Tommy can either save the day and lead them home or take revenge for their persistent condescension and leave them to be eaten by bears on a pebbly mountain top.

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I am Tommy’s shit-eating grin.

Dumbasses. How the hell did you wind up back on top after you started down?

Unfortunately, this book takes the safe route, teaching about service in the common good instead of leaving one’s family to be gnawed upon by furry Ursidae, but I can recommend it for the charming drawings of idyllic life for middle class white people in 1962.

p.s. Don’t get stung by bees, Tommy, your head is big enough.

(Seriously, what is up with the size of that kid’s head?)

“Tommy’s Camping Adventure”
by Gladys Saxon
pictures by Mel Crawford
Golden Press, New York 1962

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