An immigrant family camping adventure
Review of "Fatima's Great Outdoors" by Ambreen Tariq.
Fatima’s Great Outdoors
By Ambreen Tariq
Illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Author, outdoors activist and founder of @BrownPeopleCamping (brownpeoplecamping.com), Ambreen Tariq relates the fictional narrative of the Khazi family, Indian immigrants to the United States who go camping for the first time. The youngest child, Fatima, has had a hard week at school. Her classmates teased her about the food she ate for lunch and the way she pronounced words. A boy pulled her long braid. And Fatima didn’t do well on her math quiz. The camping trip feels like a reward after all her trials. However, Fatima becomes more discouraged when her older sister brags about her excellent test scores as the family drives to the campground.
After they arrive, Papa struggles to erect the tent. Fatima helps out as much as she can, slowly beginning to feel better when it’s set up. However, when they can’t start a campfire, and she looks around at all the families who have blazing fires, she’s upset, and aching questions surface in her heart: “Why couldn’t theirs look like that? Why did Fatima’s family always have to be so different?”
Soon, however, the Khazis begin to relax and enjoy themselves. Fatima recalls several happy memories about her childhood in India. When the family pack up to return home, Fatima is sad and thinks, “Home meant no laughing around the campfire or telling funny stories from India. Home meant no long road trips with fresh samosas and Bollywood sing-alongs in the car. Home meant taking tests, doing homework, getting in trouble, and being teased at school. Home meant Mama and Papa would be tired again from working long hours and two jobs each.”
Comforted by the knowledge that her family will one day camp again, Fatima is encouraged to return to school and share her adventure, a positive experience in the life of an immigrant child struggling to adjust to a new land.