Last week I wrote about books where there have been many years between sequels, and today’s post is also about sequels in a way, but this time about sequels creating a series of books which have grown up apace with their readers.
Perhaps the most famous example of this for a certain generation are the Harry Potter novels; many a child (and a fair few adults) grew up in parallel with the Harry Potter books as they each came out over a 10 year period. Other series which I know have done something similar for kids more recently are the Clarice Bean (and Ruby Redfort) stories by Lauren Child, the Claude stories by Alex T. Smith, the Captain Flinn books Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto and also the Albie books created by Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves. For my kids the Findus and Pettson books by Sven Nordqvist and the Eddie books by Sarah Garland have done something similar.
Eddie’s Garden was first published in 2004, the year M (now 10) was born. I wish I remembered how we discovered it because it is one of those books which almost defines my early parenthood and time with my first child. The slightly chaotic home felt oh-so-recognisable. That Eddie’s messy but warm home was full of kindness and playfulness was something I aspired to as I tried to work out how to be a half-way ok parent. 2007 saw the arrival of Eddie’s Kitchen, followed by Eddie’s Toolbox in 2010, each book being greeted with glee by us all in the family.
11 years after Eddie first appeared, this year sees a new story about him: Eddie’s Tent and How to go Camping.
Eddie and his family are off to the seaside for a short camping holiday. He has fun helping to set up their pitch, building a fire, tying guy ropes and making it homely. He even builds his own play tent out of branches and a blanket. As happens so often on family camping trips, the kids make friends with other children nearby, but when a pet dog goes missing, it looks like Eddie and his new friend Max could end up in trouble. Thanks, however, to Eddie’s ingenuity all ends well with new friendships formed and sausages eaten around the campfire.
Like all the Eddie stories, this one mixes very practical information – elements almost of non-fiction – with adventures any child could recognize from their own life. The mixture of fact (both in the illustrations and often in endnotes at the back of the book), with hugely reassuring and yet realistic family life experiences is a winning formula. Eddie’s Tent includes great advice on building campfires, cooking on them as well as how to tie useful knots. In many respects I think it pairs brilliantly with Mick Manning and Brita Granström’s (non-fiction title) Wild Adventures. What it offers, however, over and above anything any non-fiction book can do, is a cast of characters you care about, who make you smile, who you’re only too glad you know.
There’s lovable Lily, Eddie’s mischievous little sister, their Mum who hangs out in joggers and baggy jumpers and is immensely practical as well as kind (Hurrah for a fictional mum who can build and fix things as well as nurture and play with her kids.) By this fourth book, they’re joined by Eddie’s mum’s new partner Tom, and his lovely daughter Tilly (another Hurrah – for a mixed race family that’s just part of the mix). Down to earth, generous, relaxed and yet lively, they make a super family that’s a delight to read about.
Eddie’s Tent is a marvellous continuation of Eddie’s story, once again perfectly pitching learning hand-on skills with fun storytelling. Fingers crossed another Eddie story is in the pipeline – even if my kids are in their teens when it appears, I know we’ll be all reading it together!
Now, can you believe it – as a family we’ve barely ever camped. Our only time under canvas was a few years back in a rather luxurious yurt with futons and duvets and good coffee on tap nearby but with the arrival of Eddie’s Tent I was DETERMINED to give more traditional camping a go with the girls. They were extremely excited at the prospect, and with the wonderful support of their Grandparents we were able to spend a night camping last last month.
We pitched our tent where X marked the spot.
We did a bit of on location reading.
We made damper bread.
We baked cake in hollowed out orange skins (ready mix cake mixture poured into scooped out orange halves, re-assembled, wrapped in foil and then baked in the ashes for 20 minutes or so).
We had rather a lot of fun.
The three of us squeezed into the tent and our sleep was sweet (but short). Would we do it all again? Most definitely. Roll on the summer holidays I say!
Tent and camping themed music for a playlist could include:
For further activities to try alongside reading Eddie’s Tent why not:
What book series have you and your family grown up with? What are your favourite family books about camping?
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.