Recommended for ages 8-12
Lucy and her friends are back in the sequel to Pack of Dorks! The school year is done, and Lucy and her pack are headed to camp: Camp Paleo, where the group gets to live like cavemen for the next week. Because Sheldon thought it would be a cool idea. Sam backs out at the last minute to go to a gymnastics training camp, but Lucy’s grandma comes along for the summer, working as a lunch lady at the techy camp next door. Camp Paleo is decidedly not techy. The campers dig for fossils, learn archery, and have really, really cold, showers with bugs for company. Mr. Bosserman, the camp leader, is a grumpy old man, and Lucy feels her pack falling apart as the week progresses. Lucy’s got to look at some of her own choices and own up to things she’s said and done before she finds herself on the outs for good.
Camp Dork is a solid sequel to Pack of Dorks, which was brilliant in its depiction of a group of tweens coming together to embrace the things that made them unique. They owned their Dork label at school, but sometimes, you don’t want to be a label: you want to be a person, and you don’t want to be fettered by a word that supposedly describes all that you are. It’s something Lucy has to learn, and it’s something that readers are learning, right along with her. Camp Dork explores how people – especially tweens, but even adults – are perceived by different people, at different times, in different situations.
Camp Dork is a great summer read for tweens who are at the same point in their lives: discovering who they are, cultivating different interests and new friends, and maybe, fighting a little bit of change in their lives. If you loved Pack of Dorks, don’t miss Camp Dork. If you didn’t read Pack of Dorks, no worries – there’s enough exposition in Camp Dork to catch you up without you feeling lost.
I love the way Beth Vrabel writes. The dialogue just flows, and it’s at once loaded with inner frustration, wit and sarcasm, and honesty. I just saw on her website that another of her books that I really enjoyed, Blind Guide to Stinkville, has a sequel coming out this Fall, so I’ll be all over it.
There’s a really good librarian-created discussion guide to Pack of Dorks on Beth Vrabel’s website, which makes me feel like I need to start coming up with these things for all the books I read.