Be Preparedby Published 24 Apr 2018
A gripping and hilarious middle-grade summer camp memoir from the author of Anya's Ghost.
All Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there's one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.
Vera is sure she's found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the "cool girl" drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!
Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Cece Bell, and Victoria Jamieson, Vera Brosgol's Be Prepared is a funny and relatable middle-grade graphic novel about navigating your own culture, struggling to belong, and the value of true friendship.
"Be Prepared" Reviews
IF VERA BROSGOL DOESN'T HAVE THE CUTESTBEST ART STYLE IN THE WORLD, I SURE DO NOT KNOW WHO DOES.
that's pretty much the standout part of this book in either direction. it's a classic indoors-kid-goes-to-camp-and-hates-it-and-everything-is-terrible-but-then-she-likes-it-because-she-makes-a-friend-just-in-time-to-leave story. which, like, not my favorite trope? presumably no one's favorite trope? just a lot of gross toilets and bugs and outdoor shenanigans.
BUT. BUTBUTBUT! the art, you guys. the arrrrrrttttttt.
i probably didn't like it as much as Anya's Ghost (the other graphic novel i've read by Brosgol) but the art seems like it's somehow improved. which seems impossible. but god it's so cute and good i looooove it.
bottom line: who doesn't love a quick graphic novel with great art!!!
I enjoyed this! This will be a short review just because the rating speaks for itself. I have nothing particularly outstanding to say about it, but there's also nothing terrible about it. It was entertaining, but it was just okay. Maybe get it from the library instead of buying it
Vera Brosgol created Anya's Ghost, which I liked very much, so I looked forward to this tale, since summer camp was important to my early life, and is important to some present members of this house now, including one girl. I expect they may really like this story, which is very much based on Brosgol's largely miserable experiences at camp while growing up. She also explains in an afterword that in the process of creating this graphic novel that she consulted her sisters about what camp had been like for them and folded some of their stories into this, making it more fictional.
Vera and her brother go to Russian camp, where they do things that kids do at camp, but in the context of a cultural heritage experience, speaking the language and so on. She's young for her group, she has tent-mates that isolate her, she has no friends. But she draws and for a time she is allowed to hang with the older, cool girls. . . until she makes some mistakes that get her isolated again. But here's hope! She eventually makes one friend that makes it all (kinda) worthwhile.
I liked it just fine. The cartooning is great. The expected level for readers might be from 3rd to 7th grade. The afterword includes an actual humorously miserable letter Brosgol wrote to her mother from camp. She says he likes camping now. I guess if you hated camp you could commiserate with Brosgol here. Some of it is funny, but most of it is a little sad, I thought. A story for loners who might not always be loners, hopefully.
With strong art and solid writing, this is a well-done addition to the coming-of-age summer camp subgenre. The Russian Orthodox background of the characters gives the book a unique flavor. I'd like to see a follow-up to the little cliffhanger at the end.
I love graphic novels and how this format appeals to a wide range of students. This book will definitely be popular with students, but I did have some concerns about whether I feel comfortable promoting it with my elementary students.
Vera Brosgol wrote this as a semi-autobiographical story about her trips to Russian summer camp. The moments prior to camp at the friend sleepover and hosting her own sleepover birthday party were heart breakingly real. My own heart ached for her as she tried to fit in with the other girls.
When she decides Russian Camp will be the answer to fitting in, I assumed it might not be quite that easy. However, I had no idea how bad it might be. When a rookie nine year old is placed in a tent with two experienced fourteen year olds who treat her horribly because she doesn’t wear a bra and isn’t interested in boys, I was appalled that this might be true to life. The stinky outhouse toilets with no doors and boys stealing flags while they are in use...I just can’t even imagine how horrifying this would be.
For me, my concerns are with the incident where the boy gets stung, swells up and is called tit head and also where the girls fly the period stained underwear up the flagpole. These two scenes make it so I don’t feel I can put this in my K-5 library because I have many younger students who read our graphic novels. It’s unfortunate because I know my fourth and fifth graders would love it.
I’m sure this one will be a huge hit with middle school readers!