Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Have Pen, Will Travel (Backyard Book Club)

by Ruth McNally Barshaw

From Goodreads: One girl. One sketchbook. One week with the world's most annoying relatives.

When Ellie McDougal's parents go out of town, she's forced to go on a camping trip with her aunt, uncle, cousins, and baby brother, Ben-Ben. Ellie can handle mosquitos and poison ivy, but sharing a cabin with her crazy relatives? No way! From her aunt's many rules to her cousin Eric's constant teasing, Ellie needs her sketchbook to survive this family vacation.

My Two Cents: My kids and I loved Ellie McDoodle! They laughed out loud and begged for more every night. The text and illustrations work perfectly together, and Ellie is such a realistic and relatable character. My kids were crazy about her, even when she was being naughty, and the book gave us lots of opportunities to talk about sibling and family dynamics and having empathy for each other. We'll definitely be reading the rest of the series!

Grade Level: 1-4

Additional Resources:
  • Check out Ruth McNally Barshaw's wonderful website.
  • Learn how to draw different facial expressions like Ellie can.
  • Ellie is good at identifying plants. Go for a nature walk and see how many you can identify! For the ones you can't, find them in an online field guide for plants or trees.
  • Do the Hokey-Pokey (even if it's not Ellie's favorite.)
  • Ellie draws great maps. See if you can draw a map of your room or your house, or make one online.
  • Play blob tag like Ellie, or play one of these other fun tag variations.
  • Ellie and her cousins caught one kind of amphibian and told a story about another kind. What other kinds of animals were in this book? (Dead or alive...)
  • Start keeping your own sketch journal or nature journal! (There are great ideas for how to do this at the back of Ellie McDoodle, too...)

More to Read:
  • Another creative, artistic kid with realistic family relationships: The Adventures of Beanboy by Lisa Hardraker
  • Another book about a girl getting to know her cousins better on a camping trip: I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson
  • Another story about a kid who likes to doodle and takes a memorable summer trip: My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian
  • Another funny illustrated journal (although I much prefer Ellie): Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Check back in the coming weeks to see what we did for our Ellie McDoodle meeting of the Backyard Book Club!


  1. Hmm, I really think Catie would like this. Looking into it now :)

  2. Thank you so much! I appreciate your shining the spotlight on Ellie McDoodle. :)