Friday, September 30, 2016

Review: Camp Dork by Beth Vrabel

Pack of Dorks, Book Two
by Beth Vrabel
Sky Pony Press
Middle Grade Contemporary
240 pages

Lucy and her pack are back, in this sequel to Beth Vrabel’s heartwarming and humorous debut, Pack of Dorks. Sheldon convinces Lucy, Sam, April, and Amanda to join him at a weeklong sleep-away summer camp—Camp Paleo: Live Like a Caveman. Like cavemen, they’re going to have to make do without air conditioning or a heated pool. They’ll learn archery and dig for fossils. And Grandma’s coming too; she’s taking a job as lunch lady for the camp next door.

At the last minute, Sam backs out to go to a gymnastics training camp instead. Lucy wonders why she misses him so much—it’s not like he’s her boyfriend or anything. Why does the word “boyfriend” make her blush, even when she’s only thinking it? She needs a distraction. Enter Mr. Bosserman, the grouchy camp leader who won’t budge on the caveman aspect of the camp. The old man needs some softening up, and Lucy knows just the person for the job: Grandma.

One successful match made, Lucy starts to see potential lovebirds everywhere. And setting up couples keeps her from facing the question tickling the back of her mind: Is she in love with Sam? But when the wrong campers fall for each other, the pack falls apart, all under the watchful eye of a super secret blogger who’s been writing about the camp’s activities Gossip Girl–style. Even worse? A thief is targeting everyone but Lucy, setting her up to look guilty. Soon Lucy again finds herself alone, left to fix the messes she’s made and face her own feelings. If she fails, the pack may be splintered for good.

Sky Pony Press, with our Good Books, Racehorse and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of books for young readers—picture books for small children, chapter books, books for middle grade readers, and novels for young adults. Our list includes bestsellers for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, and the environment, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Timesbestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.


This book can be read as a stand alone without any problem.

Lucy unhappily agrees to go to camp with her friends and when Sam, the one who instigated the whole plan, backs out to go to a more elite camp, the entire trip seems to be jinxed. Especially when the camp 'the pack of dorks' end up in a rustic, cheaper camp while the neighboring one is elite pure.

This is a cute story about first boy tingles, middle school drama at camp (and we know how much drama that can be!), learning to fit in and learning to stand up for yourself. Add a lovely group of friendship and all the problems that can include, and it's a perfect summer camp story for kids 9 and up.

Lucy gets caught up in all sorts of messes of her own doing. her bad decisions--one after the other--make matters much worse. She goes against others without thinking and opens her mouth when she should keep it shut. The author does a fantastic job of showing how a young girl and easily be swept into a mountain of mess, while not necessarily being a 'bad person' herself. The struggle of balancing life choices and their consequences comes through crystal clear in a way kids will have no trouble understanding or relating to. Because let's face it--middle school is hard but camp is even worse. Especially when you are in the pack of dorks.

The characters each have their very own personality, making them come to life as if they were sitting there in the room. However, it's the dialogue which really brings this story to life. Lucy and her friends are placed in a difficult situation which not only kids but even adults understand. And her mistakes aren't that far off from ones many of us have made in the past to some degree. The life lessons are clear, while remaining down to earth and sometimes humorous too. There's just a ton to like in these pages.

It's a fun read with lots to give and will leave the reader with a few things to think about after the story comes to a close.

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