Retired art teacher Rebecca McKeever and sister Victoria Robinson Worst encourage young artists to embrace their mistakes in a picture book about six cousins who learn from one slip-up that art doesn’t need to be perfect.
During a weeklong reunion of all the grandchildren at her grandparents’ house, third-grader Becca realizes she’s forgotten to pack her favorite stuffed bear and, at Granny’s suggestion, makes a torn-paper version of him to sleep with. When Becca’s cousins see how cute he’s turned out, they want to make torn-paper bears too. But then the youngest cousin tears paper the wrong way, and they all learn that mistakes don’t have to make them sad, but can lead to something great.
The book concludes with pictures of 17 torn-paper animals, including Becca’s love-worn bear and the youngest cousin’s mishap, a bear changed to a bunny. There are also patterns, directions and tips for assembling torn-paper animals, and a URL to a child-led instructional video on You Tube. The book is packaged with a craft kit that includes more patterns, construction paper, a glue stick and a box of 16 oil pastels.
Written in a fluid, direct way, Camp Granny is a thoughtful effort to show that there are many paths to art. However, it lacks the creativity readers might expect from a book that’s about letting go creatively. The book is far less adventurous than the acclaimed Beautiful Oops!, for example.
The oil pastel-like illustrations support the text and capture expressions, yet shading is often too heavy and facial features are sometimes out of proportion. Additionally, the kit (assembled in a simple paper folder) looks homemade and contains items many families already have, with the possible exception of the pastels.
Though Camp Granny doesn’t distinguish itself creatively, it’s likely to resonate with young readers who’ve been hamstrung by mistakes or not known how to cope with a forgotten toy — and can now lovingly recreate it with scraps of paper and lay it on their pillow.
Also available as an ebook.