Friday, May 12, 2023

Happy Book Birthday, Monster Camp by Sarah Henning

I'm stretching the book birthday celebrating a little bit, since today's read appeared three days ago. But who wants to really stop a party? Anyway, today's read caught my attention...not because of the odd roasting ingredients...because of the blurb. While a monster camp could be amazingly fun, tossing an oblivious 7th grader into the mix screams entertaining. 

So, let's see how monster-ly this read is.

by Sarah Henning
Margaret K McElderry Books
Middle Grade Fantasy
367 pages
ages 8 to 12

Ghost Squad meets Hotel Transylvania in this sweetly spooky fish-out-of-water middle grade story about a human girl who must put on the performance of her life when she realizes what she thought was a LARPing summer camp is full of real monsters!

With her stick-on fangs and widow’s peak drawn in waterproof eyeliner, Sylvie is an expert at pretending to be a vampire. More kids at school would know that if they bothered to join her monster LARPing (live action role playing) club. Not even her dad understands her passion for the undead and denies her request to attend a monster LARPing summer camp. But Sylvie is not so easily deterred.

She decides to tell her dad she’s attending another camp located near Monster Camp then sneak over to her real destination after he drops her off. Sylvie feels bad lying to her dad, but there’s no way she’s going to miss the chance to finally meet other kids that share her interests. And when she lays eyes on Monster Camp, she knows it was all worth it—the immersive campgrounds look like they came off a Hollywood lot!

But when an obnoxious kid dressed like a werewolf gets punished by being magically turned into a Pomeranian, Sylvie realizes she made a critical miscalculation. These aren’t LARPers, they’re real monsters, and Sylvie’s preferred costume means she’s placed with blood-sucking, human-biting campers who would breathe fire if they knew the truth about her. She has no choice but to try to stick it out by doing exactly what she does best: pretending to be a monster.

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Monsterly fun meets summer camp with a surprising twist of supernatural. to create a perfect read for summer break.

Sylvie lives and breathes monsters, and has even founded her own LARPing club...which doesn't go over nearly as well as she'd hoped. When the only member ditches her without a word for a survival summer camp, her father decides it's time for Sylvie to stop living in a fantasy world and get to know 'real' friends...after all, her mother's death had been six years before and life has to continue. When he brings home a stack of summer camp brochures and demands she chose one, the monster camp is an obvious choice. When she arrives, it's awesome...until she notices that everyone around her isn't pretending. They are real monsters.

Watching Sylvie land herself as the only human in a camp for monsters screams fun, and it is. From the moment Sylvie steps foot into the camp, the pending problem becomes so obvious that it crawls underneath the skin in the most delightful way. The reader knows what the camp is about and watching Sylvie be so painfully oblivious makes one want to screech and worry what will happen to a good way. It's funny to see that the other monster don't notice the difference, but there's a reason behind everything. Meeting the other characters with their unique quirks and twists is as enjoyable as the adventure itself. Readers will wish they could attend this camp themselves, and even take a swim with Nessie despite the ever-problematic werewolves waiting on the shore.

There are some morals built in surrounding bullying, accepting differences, standing up, and self-acceptance. These are clear but mix very well into the entire atmosphere. The read flows by smoothly, although I did catch myself skipping paragraphs now just to know what would happen next. It was enjoyable, and I even could picture this one as a series (tv).