Saturday, June 02, 2018

Cartoon Saturday- Be Prepared

30623067Brosgol, Vera. Be Prepared
April 24th 2018 by First Second
E ARC from

Vera is trying very hard to fit in, but her single, Russian immigrant mother is in school and struggling to provide the lifestyle that Vera sees her classmates enjoying. After attending a slumber party, for example, Vera asks her friends to one at her house. She doesn't have enough space, her mother doesn't order the "right"kind of pizza, and the girls all call their parents in the middle of the night to take them home. One of the activities that many of her classmates do over the summer is to go to camp, which leaves Vera and her young brother with few children there age to engage with over vacation. When a girl at her church mentions a camp specifically for Russian children, Vera is SO excited. She begs to be able to go, and her mother saves up in order to send them. However, once there, Vera is alarmed at the bathroom facilities and by the mean older girls who are assigned to her cabin. It's a rough camping experience all together until the very end when Vera makes a few friends and has some fun... but not enough to go back for a second year.

Strengths: There are not that many camp stories, and this view of how hard it is to keep up with the "popular" lifestyle was intriguing. The illustrations are very engaging and funny. It's nice that Vera's little brother is included so that his experiences can be compared to hers. I would really like to read a follow up about Vera's move to London, and even a prequel with more about her trying to fit into school.
Weaknesses: I'm not fond of gross details (soiled underpants being run up a flagpole), but this will not bother the target demographic as much. There was a lot of unpleasantness for poor Vera; knowing this is autobiographical made it hard for me to read this, because I wished that more children had been nicer and more understanding.
What I really think: This will be just as popular as Holm's Sunny Side Up or Jamison's Roller Girl, and exposes children to some facets of immigrant life as well as summer camp.

Ms. Yingling

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