The Great Indoors is available now!

by | Apr 9, 2019 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

My latest picture book, The Great Indoors, is out today (hooray!). It’s illustrated with amazing and hilarious pictures by Ruth Chan, and published by Disney-Hyperion.

The Great Indoors is about animals who go on vacation every year inside a house, during the same week that the human family who lives in the house goes on a camping vacation. And, just like a camping vacation, the lure and wonder of the great indoors (cell phone reception, flushing toilets, refrigeration) start to lose their appeal after several days.

It is one hundred percent based on my own family’s camping vacations (the part about the wonder and lure losing appeal, I mean) (as far as I know, no animals have vacationed in our house while we’re away).

In honor of The Great Indoors coming out today, let me tell you the story of the most nature-losing-its-appeal camping trip we ever went on. Two summers ago we went to Lily Bay State Park, which has beautiful campsites on the shores of Moosehead Lake, the largest lake in Maine.

We visited waterfalls.

We went hiking.

We played croquet and someone sent Eli’s ball into the lake.

Everything smelled so good and was green and lush. Deer frolicked past our camper. Loons called into the sunset. It was lovely.

And then we were on our way to a hike in the middle of nowhere, and our car stopped.

Just: stopped. Wouldn’t go.

There was no cell phone reception. There were no houses or buildings or other cars.

So Dave walked 8 miles back to the store we had passed. The rest of us waited.

Dave returned hours later with two park rangers to take us back to our campsite. Dave waited behind for AAA to show up with a tow truck.

We all made it back to our campsite and waited for the mechanic in town to fix our van.

Days went by.

The van was fixed, and then died again while Dave was driving it back.

We had now been at our campsite for 12 days.

We ran out of food, and Dave bicycled 22 miles round trip to get us whatever food he could carry.

We had randomly bought a bag of self-rising flour, which was amazing, because we made a lot of biscuits (a huge saving grace was that we camp in a camper, not tents, so we had a stove and oven and fridge).

We read a lot of books.

We kayaked, canoed, and swam.

We read all of the Hardy Boys books on the library shelf at the ranger station. We tried cooking up some lichen (it was terrible). We played games. We were bored.

And mostly we were completely unsure about how we’d get home. The mechanic in town, after having our car for five days, called up to say, “I can’t fix your car.

So we had it towed to the Slightly Bigger Town, an hour away, to see if the mechanic there could fix our car. Dave rode in the tow truck. We grownups were trying to be chipper and hopeful, but we felt completely at a loss and scared and annoyed and angry. The mechanic in Slightly Bigger Town had our car for one hour, and fixed it (it was a loose wire, if you need to know).

And so, eighteen days after we first left home, we returned. I have never been so glad to pull into our own driveway.

Vacations and getaways are nice. Family togetherness is terrific. But after a certain amount of time, it’s nice to be home.

(Keep that in mind for the last page of The Great Indoors).

I hope you like my new book! Remember: I ate lichen in order to make it for you.


  1. Kristen Zayon (AKLibraryChick)

    This is such a great story. I feel the same way about camping – I’m never quite sure if all the preparation before and clean up afterward are worth the few days of enjoyment. Can’t wait to read the book!

    • Julie

      It’s always all the same work we do at home, but harder. Yet still we go every year.


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