Perfect Picture Book Friday – Toasting Marshmallows

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF). It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because April is National Poetry Month and I really love to go camping!

Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems

By: Kristine O’Connell George
Illustrated by: Kate Kiesler
48 pages – ages 4+
Published by Clarion Books in April 2001

Theme/TopicPoetry / Nature

Opening and Synopsis –



Smooth dirt.

No rocks or roots.

Next, sharp stakes, poles,

strong nylon rope. Shake, snap.

Billow, whoof, settle. Tug. Pull taut.

Our tent is up! Blooming, bright orange.

 A girl and her family go camping and the story is told in poems. The story is told from the time they set up the tent to the time they pack up and everything in between, including campfires, hiking, sleeping bags, and bait shops!

Why I liked this book – This book was voted the School Library Journal Best Books of the Year in 2001 and I can see why. The illustrations are beautiful and realistic. I like how in the book the text for the poems is always different and takes unique shapes (for example, Tent (above) is shaped like a tent)! I love how the whole story is told in separate poems. It reminds me of our family camping trips. I want to know when we’re going camping again. I think boys (and girls) would really like this book!

Activities and Resources –

The author, Kristine O’Connell George has a ton of suggested activities to go along with her book. You can find them at her website HERE.

The National Wildlife Federation sponsors the Great American Backyard Campout every year. It encourages kids and adults to get out and have fun by having a campout in your own backyard! This year the Great American Campout is June 23rd. You can find information about it HERE.

You could sit outside and write your own poem about something you see in nature.

I think one of the best activities you can do is have a campfire and roast marshmallows and make smores!

You need marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars. You toast the marshmallows until it is warm and soft and then squish the marshmallow between 2 graham crackers that has a piece of chocolate on them. The trick is to get the marshmallow warm enough to melt the chocolate a little.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Categories: Age 1-5

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50 replies

  1. I haven’t been camping in ages. I have to get this Erik, you had me on the poem on every page. I’m trying to do that with all my pbs now and it’s hard to do so that it isn’t just a progressive story in rhyme. I’ll get some tips from it. Happy Camping!

  2. What a great idea – a book of poems about camping! Very apropos for poetry month too. This book sounds like a lot of fun, Erik. Thanks so much for adding it to our list. Gosh. I haven’t been camping since I don’t know when… a Really. Long. Time!!! 🙂

  3. I love, love, love this book of poems. It might just be my favorite. Maybe because it reminds me of all the camping I did as a kid. The title poem, Toasting Marshmallows, is so well written and I can see my brother and I in her words. Thank you for sharing such a gem with all the PPBF readers!

  4. I love camping, but haven’t done it in a really long time. I love toasting marshmallows- we do that every summer. This looks like a great book to ring in the season! Thanks Erik.

  5. What a great book! We camp all the time, and when we’re not camping, we still have campfires in the back yard. In fact, the kids have already slept in the tent! I bet my guys would love this one. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. I love how the poems take on the shape of their subjects. What a cool book. We haven’t yet been camping (trying to wait until everyone is 100% potty trained), but I am looking forward to it. And of course you don’t have to camp to make smores. Yum!

  7. I love your blog! I do remember those s’mores. As a cubscout leader, we used to make those all the time.

  8. Yum!!! I want that s’more! You know how I like poems, Erik, so this has to go on my list. I can’t wait to see the shapes of the other poems. Great review.

  9. Erik, I wish I had found this book last summer when I was reviewing camping books! What an excellent review. I liked that you showed her tent poem, as it was shaped liked a tent. Went to her blog and rad more about her work. She’s been quite accomplished for a long time. Will have to look up some of her other books. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Hmm, I think I need some smores! Thanks for reviewing this book. I know if I read it to them then they will beg me to go camping.

  11. Wow, It’s hard enough to write a good poem, let alone making them into pictures, and then all tents. Amazing. Nice book choice Erik. Did you “borrow” this one?

  12. Yours was the first I chose to visit because I collect children’s fun poetry collections. Not mega anthologies, just picture book type books of poetry. Thanks for the new one to add to my list. We’re going camping in about 6 weeks. Can’t wait!

  13. Guess what? You’re NOT going to believe this. I have NEVER been camping. And I’m a-whole-bunch-of-years old. I have sat around a campfire and roasted marshmallows, though, and they were soooo good. S’mores would be even better. And I think, for people who can eat peanut butter, a bit of peanut butter on the graham cracker, and then the chocolate and the marshmallow would make it even better. But so many kids can’t have peanut butter. 🙁

    This sounds like a great book! I love that the poem about tents is in the shape of a tent, and I’m rather pleased with myself for having noticed that even before you mentioned it. 😉

    • I am not believing it! I like peanut butter, so I’ll try your remedy the next time we make smores! At least you roasted marshmallows… It is sad that so many kids are allergic to peanut butter.

      It is great! I didn’t notice the shape of the poem at first! 😀

  14. oh My goodness, I haven’t been camping in ooooh a zillion years ago…lol! But I love toasting marshmellows over our BBQ, does that count? This is the first time I have ever heard the term “s’mores”. As I read through your review and the comments above I think I get the picture, sounds yummy….. my only question… Beth! ..peanut butter with chocolate and marshmellow ??? When I work up the courage to try it, I’ll let you know what I think….LOL. Great review Erik as always.

    • Thank you Ms. Tulloch! I hope you go camping again! I think toasting marshmallows-period is awesome and on any grill or fire place or campfire, it counts! You should try smores! Go on. Make a little fire and get the ingredients! 😉

  15. This book sounds very cool and so different from other stuff out there. We aren’t big campers, but my kids keep asking to go, so I think we will have to do it! Thanks for the recommendation!

  16. I lovelovelove Graham and refrigerated cakes and treats such as this one. Such fun! While my family and I go camping here in Singapore, it’s more like an ‘urban/citified camping’ of sorts rather than the “real thing” that I’d probably see in this picture book.

    As an aside, I just thought of you as we are currently doing a Panel of Young Voices for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content here in Singapore. If you were only somewhere close by, we’d have loved for you to come and share with us your experience about reading and blogging and writing. You’d have been perfect for that panel, Erik.

  17. Now I am hungry for s’mores. We used to make them when we were kids! Sounds like a delightful book.

  18. What a most awesome book. Camping is so much fun. e roast marshmallows here on our farm. They are yummy. Adding this to my list. (Which is growing FAST!) 🙂 *waving*

  19. Erik…what a fantastic pick for PPBF! I love the idea of telling about camping with poems. And your smores recipe was just icing on the cake. 🙂 The resource list you gave will be very helpful for any parent or teacher who wants to use this book with their children.

  20. I should have ate before I read this. Now I want a smore. I love the shape of the tent poem. It’s a unique way to present a story.

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