Friday, May 3, 2013

Like bug juice on a burger by Julie Sternberg, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

I had issues with the first book in this series, Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie. Someone did later point out to me "well, duh the text is choppy, it's free verse." My opinion is that reformatting text into looking like poetry doth not poetry make. However. I bowed to the weight of public opinion and purchased the the first book for the library where it circulated fairly well. So I agreed with myself to give the second book a chance and it turns out I liked it much better than the first one.

Eleanor's grandmother signs her up for camp - the same camp Eleanor's mother went to. Eleanor is excited, especially after the fun stories her friend tells about her camp. Then she realizes she will be away from her parents for nine days. There are a whole bunch of girls she doesn't know. Everything is very...outdoors. There are bugs, the food is icky, and she gets put in the baby swimming class. She does make a sort-of-friend, the tall and weird Joplin, but after the first day she wants to go home! With some help from the camp director and her guidance counselor, she does enjoy a few things about camp and manages to make it to the end.

Eleanor isn't the typical little girl of most beginning chapter books. I kind of sympathize with her dislike of camp, not being an outdoors person myself (other than a bit of gardening). She's a picky eater, sensitive, not athletic, and very much an only child, not used to living with other kids (or anyone really, since her parents are gone all the time it seems like). But she manages to stick it out and find some good things about camp after all. I liked that the author didn't do the typical thing and make her a huge fan of camp by the end "Sometimes--not always, but definitely sometimes--camp was a wonderful surprise." I still don't think much of the poetry from a literary standpoint, but it does work in this context and if the kids just see it as a shorter book, instead of thinking "oh this book is in poetry" that's ok too.

Verdict: Fans of the first book will definitely want to read this one. It's also perfect for those little girls who don't mesh comfortably into a group. Eleanor's fears, troubles, and triumphs ring true throughout the book and even kids who like camp and sloppy joes will be able to sympathize a little with her private reactions to what everyone else thinks is wonderful.

ISBN: 9781419701900; Published April 2013 by Amulet/Abrams; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2013; Purchased for the library

No comments: