Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 131
The Jersey Devil at Camp
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Naomi would rather spend the summer as she usually does, with her father and twin younger brothers, thinking of activities to do around town. Instead, she is going away to camp in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey because her father is moving out of the house. She has an interest in nature and plants, but just doesn't want to be away from home for two weeks. The other campers are nice, including Medina and Alice Saito. Deonne claims to be the "head girl" of their cabin, and Jackie, who has some hearing impairment, claims that she is going to break all of the rules so that she can go home. One tradition of the camp is that all of the kids get airbrushed tattoos, and there are lots of scary stories told around the campfire. Since the local monster is the Jersey Devil, there are lots of twists on that tale, including one about the "devil's cabin" where campers are sent for infractions. Naomi can't swim, and is rather anxious, but grateful that Jackie is willing to teacher her some sign language. Naomi is also concerned about the kudzu that seems to be all over the camp; it's an invasive plant widespread in the South, and needs to be controlled. The counselors, especially Mara, seem to be half a bubble off as well, and everything is creepy. When off in the woods one day, the girls see odd yellow lights, and find a child's shoe. They also meet the Jersey Devil, who claims that magic is being siphoned out of the Barrens and that the children are somehow the key to saving the area. After breaking into Mara's cabin to use her computer, Naomi puts together the details available and makes a shocking discovery about what is really going on at the camp. Will she and her new friends be able to work with the Jersey Devil to defeat the forces of evil threatening the Camp Twisted Pine?

Good Points
Summer camp is a very good thing for tweens, and it can be hard to find a camp. In the absence of actually attending one, reading about it is the next best thing! Given the out of the ordinary setting of camps, and the unfamiliarity of a wooded setting, it makes sense that we see a lot of camps where creepy things are taking place. Ghost stories are a big nighttime draw! Naomi doesn't want to go to camp, but manages to make the most of her experience, and it was nice to see that there wasn't too much drama with the friendships; when you are only with people for two weeks, there's no history and a lot more forgiveness. The villain was a little surprising, and I enjoyed the fact that the Jersey Devil was not really the force of evil one would suspect!

This is a good choice for readers who enjoyed this author's Finch House or other books about creepy camps, like Berk and Mitchell's Camp Murderface or the Tales from Cabin 23 series and find something like Strand's Nightmare in the Back Yard TOO scary.
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