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KidLit Book Review: Camp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle and Jason Adam Katzenstein


Synopsis

Reluctant Skye is accidentally sent to the wrong summer camp. Not wanting to please her “step-monster,” Skye is dead-set on not fitting in. That won’t be a problem, as everyone at Camp Midnight with the exception of fellow camper and fast-friend Mia is a full-fledged monster!

Can Skye keep her secret identity as a human hidden until she catches her bus for home? And if Skye and Mia fear monsters, what exactly is it that monsters are afraid of?


Details

  • Title: Camp Midnight
  • Series: Camp Midnight, Volume 1
  • Author: Steven T. Seagle
  • Illustrator: Jason Adam Katzenstein
  • Cover Artist: Jason Adam Katzenstein
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • ISBN: 1632155559
  • Publication Date: May 3, 2016
  • For Ages: 9-12
  • Category: Middle Grade
  • Spooky-Scary or Spooky-Fun? 🎃 Fun.

Review

I didn’t go to summer camp as a kid. I’ve never played tug of war or been in a canoe race or made a lanyard or whatever else it is that you’re supposed to do at camp (and I’m not even sure that people actually do those things — I’m just listing stuff that I’ve seen in ’80s teen movies). I never wanted to go to camp, either. I was too busy playing softball, reading, and avoiding social interaction. But if there had been a Camp Midnight I could have attended as a shy, creepy youngster, I would have been on the first nightmare bus out of town.

Skye is a world-class smart aleck, a sarcastic teenager being shipped off to summer camp by her well-meaning but clueless father and her legitimately awful “step-monster.” When they arrive at the local high school to meet her camp bus, the adults face a sea of buses headed to different camps and can’t remember the name of the camp Skye’s supposed to attend. Displaying astute parental judgment, they end up shoving her onto a random bus — the creepy-looking one headed for Camp Midnight, where all of the campers are real live monsters.

Quickly realizing that she and her new friend Mia are the only “normal” kids at camp, Skye pretends to be a terrifying monster-in-disguise so she won’t get ripped to shreds by the vampires and werewolves surrounding her. Her fears are unfounded, though, and she soon sees that the other campers really just want to get to know her. Skye ultimately learns the importance of being yourself and letting people love you for who you really are.

Camp Midnight has a sweet, self-affirming message, but it avoids sentimentality with its snarky humor, fast-paced storytelling, and anarchic artwork. The sketchy, chaotic backgrounds that convey the creepiness and danger of the camp (and the surrounding woods that just so happen to contain a rogue basilisk) will satisfy those looking for a little horror. Jason Adam Katzenstein throws in some hilarious meta jokes that will appeal to all ages — there’s one in particular that will earn a big laugh from old school comics fans.

Skye is a very relatable character, especially for kids dealing with divorcing parents or new social environments, and I found her strength and sass pretty inspiring. (Though if I were a parent or camp counselor on the receiving end of that sass, I’m sure I would have a different attitude toward it.) This middle grade graphic novel is wild, fun, and infinitely re-readable — the literary equivalent of the perfect midnight snack.


Rating

You could probably persuade me to make a lanyard if there were werewolves involved. I give this book 4 out of 5 coffins.

4 Coffins


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