In Camp by Kayla Miller, Olive is excited to be going to summer camp this year, especially since her best friend Willow is also going. She’s looking forward to doing camp things and making new friends. As soon as the girls arrive, Olive jumps right into the friend-making and activities, but Willow is as adept as making friends and instead wants to follow Olive everywhere. Worse still, she tries to hold Olive back from making other friends or joining different activities, becoming sulky and giving her the silent treatment when she does.
At first, Olive handles things well, making compromises and forgoing opportunities to hang out with other campers just to keep Willow happy. Eventually, though, things start to get to her and the girls’ friendship becomes strained. Will this ruin camp for both girls?
I really liked the premise of this graphic novel. Friendships are hard when you’re a middle schooler, and as someone who had a somewhat clingy best friend at that age, I felt for Olive. I also admired her, because she was far more graceful and kinder that I might have been at her age. She was eager (sometimes too eager) to compromise her enjoyment for Willow’s comfort. I loved that the camp counselors gave Olive good advice about being her own person and making the best of camp, instead of being weighed down by Willow’s attitude.
Another highlight of this graphic novel is the summer camp experience — the book is packed with it! From games to events to activities, and even bunk beds, it feels real and I’m sure any who haven’t been to summer camp will find this a reasonable virtual substitute. The author does a good job of creating memorable characters, such that even though there are several kids in this novel, much like in Hale’s Real Friends, it’s not overwhelming to keep track of them.
Finally, the technicalities. I read this on my iPad and it renders beautifully, since it’s a Kindle & Comixology graphic novel production. This book is also available on Kindle Unlimited, which is handy if your kids have a Kindle Fire.
Although the girls amicably resolve their issues, I didn’t feel like I understood Willow’s motivations enough. Or maybe I’m just petty? It could also be the fact that I didn’t read the prequel, Click.
Camp by Kayla Miller is a realistic portrayal of a common friendship issue: clinginess. The author handles the matter with care, and Olive, the sensitive protagonist is kind and generous in her dealings with her friend Willow. Yet, I loved how often it is emphasized that kids do not always have to sacrifice their joys because other friends aren’t having as good a time. Besides the friend drama, this book also provides an immersive summer camp experience. I would highly recommend Camp to lovers of books about summer camps and books about friendships.
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More Graphic Novel Reviews
- Real Friends by Shannon Hale
- Guts by Raina Telgemeier
- Twins by Varian Johnson
Have you read this book or any other books by Kayla Miller? What are your favorite graphic novels?
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