Boys Camp: Zee’s Story, by Kitson Jazynka and Valerie Tripp/illus. by Craig Orback, (2015, Sky Pony Press), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1629147543
Recommended for ages 8-12
It’s summertime, and Zee is excited to return to Camp Wolf Trail and hang out with all of his friends, especially his best friend and partner in pranks, Will. But things are a little different this year when Will gets angry at Zee for including other friends in their camp fun. Zee is worried about the infamous Will and Zee dynamic duo coming to an end, but heads out on an kayaking trip with his camp group, where he finds himself in some serious danger – can he navigate his way out of the rapids before it’s too late, and reconcile with his best buddy? It’s going to be a heck of a summer at Boys Camp!
This is a great book for my more conservative readers, who’ve been on my mind since reading the article about serving more conservative teen patrons in School Library Journal. I’ve got quite a few groups of kids who want something without a lot of negative connotations or perceived bad behaviors. These are the kids that are still my ardent Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys readers, My American Girl readers, and now, I imagine my Boys Camp series readers.
Co-authored by National Geographic books for kids author Kitson Jazynka and American Girl author Valerie Tripp, Boys Camp: Zee’s Story is good, lighthearted storytelling. These are good kids that like to have fun, enjoy working together, and yes, experience conflict. What you’re not getting are mean-spirited kids, ghost stories, or wisecracking kids that outwit adults on a regular basis. Conservative teens start out as conservative middle-grade readers, and finding books for this group isn’t always the easiest. Books like Zee’s Story are great for me to give to my younger readers and readers from conservative families, because the characters are multi-ethnic, work together, and form respectful relationships with the adults in the camp. The story itself is light and fun, and set within a larger Boys Camp series from Sky Pony, allowing return readers to make new literary friends and return to a favorite place. Illustrations by Craig Orback flesh out the readers’ imaginations and add some tension to scenes like the kayak ride by the rapids.
I’m glad this book is going on my shelves, and can’t wait to order the other Boys Camp series. I know I’m going to have a very happy group of boys in particular that will be enjoying this book over the summer.