By Laura Ennis, BK Story Voyager Librarian
By Vera Brosgol
(for readers in grades 4-9)
Is there a better time to relive some summer camp escapades then during the back-to-school whirl? The graphic novel “Be Prepared” illustrates the sleep-away camp adventures of Vera, a Russian 9-year-old living in the suburbs of New York. In wanting to experience somewhat of her wealthier peers’ summer exploits, Vera convinces her mother to let her go to Russian sleep-away camp, an option more friendly to her parents’ budget than those her peers enjoy. At camp, Vera learns how to be prepared for outhouses, hiking trips, and mean girl coolness.
Brosgol’s use of woodsy green and brown tones convey the woods of Connecticut and make for an apt backdrop to spotlight the protagonist’s trials. The drive to fit in with her wealthier peers that set Vera on the path to camp is reconsidered in the guise to fit in with her camp peers. Will she find more like-mined friendships at Russian camp? Readers who are Russian, may identify with Brosgol’s Russian OPPA camp, yet the story engages readers of all cultures and faiths. The dialogue is realistic for a 9-year-old-girl; the pace of the novel is smooth and consistent, making its 256 page count fly by.
For lovers of Shannon Hale’s, “Real Friends” and Raina Tagelmeier’s “Drama” , “Smile” , and “Sisters,” Vera Brosgol’s “Be Prepared” is the perfect addition to the graphic novel genre. If you ever struggled to be yourself in a crowd, Vera Brosgol’s “Be Prepared” is an empowering read!