This deceptively simple, thoroughly engaging story is a child's account of her family's cross-country road trip (complete with hand-drawn maps) to visit the old homestead. Before they embark, Mom gives her two children instant cameras and notebooks to document their travels. But the kids quickly discover that what they record on film has little in common with what they actually experience. The snapshot of the back of Dad's head as he drives, for instance, fails in every way to capture the way it felt to be in the car with him at that moment. Photos of grass, a mountain, the sky, or cropped feet in no way reflect the endless days of rain, the secret swimming spot, or activities in the lake. The youngsters also find that on the very best days—when the large extended family gathers at the farm—they are just too busy to take any pictures. Perkins's colorful, line-intensive illustrations incorporate a lot of detailed thought bubbles and plenty of peeks inside the narrator's notebook. Vibrant watercolor renderings include the lush scenery from a variety of perspectives, the characters and their activities, their vivid imaginings, and the kids' captioned "photos." The whole is infused with wonderfully understated accidental, but child-centered humor. A journey into family dynamics, shared experience, and memory that is well worth the trip.
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