CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 20. . . .January 28th, 2010.
Adventures at Camp Lots-O-Fun. (Orca Echoes).
Marilyn Helmer. Illustrated by Mike Deas.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2010.
60 pp., pbk., $6.95.
Grades 2-4 / Ages 8-10.
Review by Christine Torchia.
*** / 4
DJ sat on the bottom bunk, chewing the end of his pencil. He read over what he had written.
Dear Lots-o-Fun Journal,
Here I am at Camp Lots-o-Fun. Me and the other guys in Cabin Six call it Camp Not-so-Fun. It's on Great Bear Lake. But we can't go swimming or canoeing or any of that fun stuff. It's been raining since we got here. Some of the puddles are so big there are creepy crawlers in them. There are bugs and mosquitoes all over the place!
Chris sprayed our cabin with Bug-Be-Gone. He's our Counselor. His hair is so long he wears it in a ponytail. He has big muscles too. He showed us his biceps. They look like boulders. You don't want to mess with Chris. I hope the Bug-Be-Gone works. I saw a cockroach in the dining hall this morning. Raj said it was a cricket, but he didn't have his glasses on. I know a cockroach when I see one.
DJ looked at the other boys in Cabin Six. Raj, Ernie and Andrew were all sprawled on the floor, making their journals. DJ had finished his yesterday. He had also made a monkey mask, a bucket hat and a rock paperweight. He was tired of crafts.
Finally, the first day it isn't raining, and the boys are ready to head outside and explore the camp. DJ has forgotten his jacket at home so Counselor Chris suggests he find one in the lost and found. DJ has to make do with a jacket that has 'Girl Power' across the front. Using red tape, DJ covers up the word 'girl' and adds the word 'man' to power. He is now Power Man! Wearing his Power Man jacket, DJ feels safe and ready to have some fun. Power Man isn't afraid of anything! Hearing a bear in the forest, seeing a monster in the swamp reeds or looking for a ghost on Hermit Island, DJ's active imagination make the days more interesting for Power Man and his three cabin mates. At night, however, DJ finds comfort sleeping with his sock monkey, Sockster. DJ slips Sockster out of his bag at night when none of the other boys are looking and makes sure he is hidden away in the morning. Power Man may not be afraid, but Sockster is, and DJ needs to make him feel safe. Unfortunately, when the other boys find out about Sockster, DJ has to face the teasing, especially from Andrew. One night, Power Man leaps to the rescue when a spider scares the boys in Cabin Six, and Power Man saves the spider from being squished so it can be released outside. Although Andrew is still not as impressed as the other boys, they think DJ has shown real bravery for catching the spider.
The following day, Chris pairs the boys up in a scavenger hunt. Andrew and DJ must work together to find a list of items found in nature, and they end up in stomach aching giggles and win the hunt using their creative thinking to find objects for all the clues. In DJ's final journal entry, he reveals he is sad to be leaving his friends after a fun time at camp but excited that all the boys will be back next summer, even Andrew, who turned out to be fun after all.
Many young children will relate to Adventures At Camp Lots-O-Fun. The story touches on many of the fears and worries children have, especially when they are away at camp. Feeling secure with his sock monkey is necessary for DJ, but having the boys think he sleeps with a doll is too embarrassing, and so he keeps Sockster hidden. I think this story is well-written and entertaining for a young reader. The few illustrations give the reader a clear picture about what is really happening in the story. My children and I enjoyed Adventures At Camp Lots-O-Fun.
Christine Torchia is an Early Childhood Educator/Educational Assistant and mother of two elementary school children in Winnipeg, MB.
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