Review Detail

Kids Fiction 89
Scarier than Swimming Lessons in Early June
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Tez and Corryn are not super happy to be traveling to Camp Sweetwater in 1983. Neither are super excited about being out in the damp, insect laden forests of Ohio, and the strangely abusive, British counselors don't help. Mary and Gavin give all the campers insulting nicknames, and the cabins are all fairly dismal. Not only that, but creepy things keep happening. Corryn's cabin is positively alive with bugs, and the lake seems to be teeming with something as well. Not only that, but when looking through old yearbooks from 1883, there is a picture that looks strikingly like the odd Old Lifeguard with his old fashioned swimming outfit and handlebar mustache. Still, there are voices that speak to the campers, and Tez and Corryn figure out that they must be from three girls who died in a mysterious fire years ago. The two do more research at the public library in a nearby town (where they are not supposed to be!) and find that the camp had been named Camp Devilwood. Can they figure out what really happened at the camp and put the restless spirits at peace before disaster occurs.
Good Points
This has a great cover, and I really liked both Tez and Corryn. Tez has Marfan syndrome, and this effects of this are discussed briefly. I had a student a few years ago with this, and can't think of any other fictional portrayals in middle grade literature. The 1980s seems to be a popular time period for setting books with creepy monsters, thanks to Stranger Things. The story moves quickly, and the mystery is easy to follow.

It's interesting that the counselors are so mean. There are a lot of things about the 1980s that I have forgotten existed, and this may be one of them. Certainly, their methods would find them out of a job very quickly in today's world!

love Berk's The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin (2010), Guy Langan, Crime Scene Investigator (2012) and Strike Three, You're Dead (2013) mainly because they are actually murder mysteries. This is more along the lines of Hahn's ghost mysteries, such as Took or The Girl in the Locked Room. Mitchell seems to write more for YA audiences. This was a great summer camp romp, but my students would probably wish it actually had more murder in it. (Which sounds so, so wrong!)
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