Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Have Pen, Will Travel

The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Have Pen, Will Travel

Ruth McNally Barshaw
For ages 8 to 10
Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2013   ISBN: 978-1619631731

Ellie is very put out because her parents are going out of town and they are not taking her with them. Instead, she and her little brother Ben-Ben are going to go on a camping trip with Ellie's aunt and her family. Ellie does not like her aunt and uncle, and she despises her three cousins, especially Eric who is a royal pain in the you know where.

And so Eric's family, with Ellie in tow, head for Higgins Lake. Ellie is appalled because they will be staying in a cabin. Real camping involves staying in tents and Ellie decides that this expedition is going to be one long trial.

At first things do indeed go rather badly. Eric is a nuisance, his twin sister whines, and the grownups are frequently angry. Everyone gets on everyone else's nerves and Ellie can only bear the whole thing by venting onto the pages of her journal. Then things get even worse.

Written in a journal/graphic novel format, this book is sure to delight readers who have doodling tendencies of their own. Anyone who has had to spend a week or so with unloved relatives or friends will be able to identify with Ellie's situation. With humor the author helps her readers to see that there are times when things are not what they seem. People who are prickly and difficult on the outside can be pretty nice on the inside – if you give them a chance.

The title is packed with wonderful comic book style illustrations. At the back of the book there is further information about how to create your own drawings in Ellie's style.