A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee

I just discovered this fabulous new-to-me book: A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee.

This is one of those little treasures that makes me wonder how on earth I missed seeing it when it first came out.

If you’re not familiar with Mr. Magee then please check it out. And if you already are, then hopefully some of my book extensions will be helpful for you!

Title: A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee
Author/Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2003
Ages: 4 – 9
Themes: Camping, Adventure, Rhyming
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


This is a humorous and suspense-filled tale about Mr. Magee and his faithful dog Dee. It’s summer time so off they go into the mountains for a relaxing camping trip. But Mother Nature has other plans for this brave duo in the form of a marshmallow-hungry, near-sighted bear and a raging waterfall. They rhyming text and beautifully detailed illustrations make for a very enjoyable read!

Opening Lines:

Early one morning at 7:03, Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee, packed up the camper and hitched up the load, hopped in the Rambler and then hit the road. They drove to the mountains, far from the sea, for two nights of camping (or possibly three).

Why I Love This Book:

This book has it all. The illustrations are gorgeous with a very retro kind of feel, which I love. The trailer and Rambler are both vintage. According to my quick research Ramblers were last produced in 1969. To me, the book feels very 1960’s. Some rhyming texts have little hiccups here and there where you have to work a bit harder to make it all fit. But not Van Dusen’s rhymes. They’re smooth and easy and such a delight to read.

The story is full of suspense and adventure which I’m sure kids will love! The best part though, is that Mr. Magee and Dee just take everything in stride. You can tell they’re a little scared and shocked at times, but they just roll with it all and do their best to stay calm. There are two other Mr. Magee books: Down to the Sea With Mr. Magee and Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee.  I wish there were more!

Mr. Magee Book Extensions:


My first suggestion is a pre-reading strategy called split images. This is a great technique for increasing story anticipation and for prediction-making.

Some day soon I’ll write a detailed post about split images, but in a nutshell this is how it works: Pair up the whole class. Partner A looks at the first page spread (just the pictures) and describes what they see to Partner B who is not looking. The next page spread is shown (pictures only) and now Partner B looks and describes, while Partner A listens. Do this back and forth until the book is finished or interest wanes.

Everyone has now seen half the book but haven’t read/heard the words so interest will be VERY high! Be sure to make some predictions before reading.


Do a whole class oral retelling after reading the book. Go around the circle and let everyone contribute to the next part of the retelling. Assess afterwards: Did we say too much? Not enough? Try the retell again and see if the class improves a little. Put the kids in pairs and have them retell the story back and forth with each other. If you’re following up with individual written retells, then definitely go through the process I described so that most everyone will be successful.


Have your students draw a picture of the trailer at the top of the falls (like the one above). When they’re finished their illustrations, instruct them to draw thinking bubbles above the characters’ heads and write what they might be thinking.


Write a movie trailer. That’s just a fancy term for picking the most exciting scene and drawing it. Then print an action-packed sentence to go with it. The goal is to try and entice someone to read the book.


Have your students take on the point of view of one of the three characters and write a Dear Diary entry describing the crazy day. It could start: “You won’t believe the day I had. First… Next… Then… Finally…


Conduct a Character Interview. These are really fun! Pretend that Mr. Magee and Dee come to visit the class. Have everyone think of one or two questions they would like to ask them. Then choose 2 volunteers to be Mr. Magee and Dee. They don’t need to dress up or anything; they just need to sit in the centre of the circle or the front of the class. The rest of the class then asks them questions about their experience in the mountains and the two volunteers answer in character.


This last idea kind of goes with #2, but have your students make Mr. Magee, Dee, and bear paper bag puppets to retell the story. This would be a great centre activity!

Click on the image to see the puppets in my store.

Puppet Pictures of Mr. Magee Dee Bear

That’s it everyone. I hope you enjoyed the review and will tuck away the book extension ideas to use when school starts up again.

Enjoy and have a wonderful day!


Leave a Comment