Thursday, June 11, 2020

Camp Murderface and Really Truly

Berk, Josh and Mitchell, Saundra. Camp Murderface
May 26th 2020 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Tez and Corryn are not super happy to be traveling to Camp Sweetwater in 1983. Neither are super excited about being out in the damp, insect laden forests of Ohio, and the strangely abusive, British counselours don't help. Mary and Gavin give all the campers insulting nicknames, and the cabins are all fairly dismal. Not only that, but creepy things keep happening. Corryn's cabin is positively alive with bugs, and the lake seems to be teeming with something as well. Not only that, but when looking through old yearbooks from 1883, there is a picture that looks strikingly like the odd Old Lifeguard with his old fashioned swimming outfit and handlebar mustache. Still, there are voices that speak to the campers, and Tez and Corryn figure out that they must be from three girls who died in a mysterious fire years ago. The two do more research at the public library in a nearby town (where they are not supposed to be!) and find that the camp had been named Camp Devilwood. Can they figure out what really happened at the camp and put the restless spirits at peace before disaster occurs.
Strengths: This has a great cover, and I really liked both Tez and Corryn. Tez has Marfan syndrome, and this effects of this are discussed briefly. I had a student a few years ago with this, and can't think of any other fictional portrayals in middle grade literature. The 1980s seems to be a popular time period for setting books with creepy monsters, thanks to Stranger Things. The story moves quickly, and the mystery is easy to follow.
Weaknesses: Didn't quite get why the counselors were British or so mean. I felt like I was missing some inside joke about this.
What I really think: I love Berk's The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin (2010), Guy Langan, Crime Scene Investigator (2012) and Strike Three, You're Dead (2013)  mainly because they are actually murder mysteries. This is more along the lines of Hahn's ghost mysteries, which are not as much in demand in my library. Mitchell seems to write more for YA audiences. I will probably purchase, but wish it actually had more murder in it. (Which sounds so, so wrong!)

Frederick, Heather Vogel. Really Truly (Pumpkin Falls #3)
June 2nd 2020 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

After solving a mystery in a book store in Absolutely Truly(2014) and one concerning maple syrup tampering in Yours Truly,(2017) Truly and her extended family are back for summer shenanigans. First, her grandmother and all of her extended Gifford family visits from Texas, giving the town of Pumpkin Falls a real show. Many participate in the July Four on the Fourth road race, and at the end of it, the trophy is missing. Before she can investigate, Truly gets news that is less than welcome-- her aunt and uncle are paying for her to go to camp for a week with her favorite cousin, Mackenzie, but it's a mermaid academy! Truly had been looking forward to spending a week without her siblings, bonding with her mother, but instead is shipped off, along with friends Cha Cha and Jasmine. The camp turns out to be a lot of fun, and since Truly is a strong swimmer, she enjoys the synchronized routines, choreographed by two elderly swimmers who were extras in Esther Williams films! The group's performance makes the local news, but Truly has a rather embarrassing wardrobe malfunction involving her clam shell bra. Back home, there is an even bigger mystery involving Cherry Island, pirates, and some of Truly's ancestors. As usual, her friends and the entire town get involved in fun ways, and Truly gets to put her newly acquired mermaid skills to good use in the community production of The Pirates of Penzance, which the director updates to be set in the 1950s. Truly is convinced there is treasure hidden in her town; will she be able to find it before the scholar and author who is also looking for it?
Strengths: The mermaid academy should have been entire book; it was such an appealing setting, with fantastic characters and such great details. The large family, combined with the wonderful Pumpkin Falls location, would probably have enticed me to purchase this series for my own when I was young so that I could have reread it every year! There are so many good details-- the father's ex-military persona, Aunt True, the bookstore, and the cousin and friends. I'm glad that there was a mystery about a family treasure as well as the one about the missing trophy. This felt like it could be the last book in the series, but was ambiguous enough that there could be another installment.
Weaknesses: The missing trophy mystery could have been better.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. The series doesn't circulate heavily, but does go out steadily, and it quite fun.

Ms. Yingling

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