Squad Goals – Erica J. Kendrick

Magic’s family members are all a bunch of athletes… and she’s not. She’d like dearly to be able to follow in her mom, sister and grandma’s footsteps and become a kickass cheerleader, but alas she falls more than she claps. Yet she isn’t one to quit, and this summer she’s aiming high: become a HoneyBee cheerleader and prove to everyone, most important her family and herself, that she hasn’t skipped the athlete gene.

Sometimes, as a reader, I was unsure if she was doing all of this to make her family proud or if she really had an actual passion and deep interest for dancing and cheering people up. Her family’s opinion obviously means the world to her and she certainly does not want to disappoint them. Regardless, it’s good to try things that we’re not necessarily automatically good at, and Magic is certainly here to prove that hard work and dedication, with time, show beautiful results. Slow and steady wins the race, right? She’s not one to quit after the first or second or third failed attempt at a cheer move.

Although, Magic is doing more than just try to achieve a dream of joining her school’s cheer squad, which her family shares. She’s also dealing with friendship drama—navigating between her best friend and new friends—, a new crush that totally seems out of her league, bullying from the other participants at the cheer camp and her own insecurities. Luckily, Magic is not alone to deal with all of this and she can count on her grandma’s ‘‘magic’’ pom-poms to give her strength, courage and remind her of her goals whenever she loses sight of them.

I think this is a cute and well-executed story. It has a lot of expected elements in a middle grade story, as you may have noticed already, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable read that one can finish in a quiet afternoon. I enjoyed spending time with Magic and doing my best to cheer her on from the sidelines. I’m also just generally entertained by stories involving sports. I do admit that I’m conflicted about whether it’s a good idea to feature the idea of ‘‘getting even’’ in such a story, as opposed to exploring the concept of ‘‘turning the other cheek’’ or ‘‘responding to hate with kindness.’’ As seen in the story, responding to embarrassment and humiliation with more embarrassment and humiliation leads to more embarrassment and humiliation, yet I’m not sure that Magic herself understood that. Overall, though, this was a relatively solid debut novel and I hope for more in the future from this author.

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the free copy in exchange for an honest review!

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous – Suzanne Park

I want to officially start this review by disclaiming that, as a general rule, I adore summer camps, whatever the type. Very fortunately, SUNNY SONG WILL NEVER BE FAMOUS was not an exception to this little rule of mine.

I do admit that I’d never read a summer camp story that featured a rehab-type of setting before, where characters are meant to detox from something. But you know what, it worked quite well. Sunny Song, like many young people in this heavily digital age, is addicted to her phone, her social accounts and the internet in general.

Can anyone reading this review not relate to that? Yes, alright, maybe you’re not checking your phone every minute, seeing if you have a text or comment, but it’s such an addictive thing if you do own a phone and love to engage with people who don’t live right next to you. All that to say that I found Sunny Song’s addiction completely believable and was excited to see what would come out of this camp for her.

The camp itself is pretty interesting. There are various fun activities that are meant to engage the campers in real life more than in a virtual one. Phones are not allowed. You want to connect with others outside the camp? How about sending a good old letter? Sunny Song is not exactly taking this (huge) rule very seriously, seeing as she is part of a big competition that could boost her social platforms’ popularity and she has her best friend back home helping her go around the rules here at camp.

There’s romance, too, and rivalry, and friendship, and growth. Overall, it’s simply an entertaining, fast-paced summer story that I encourage you to read while on a stationary bicycle at the gym. The fast-pacing of the story motivated me personally to cycle faster. So once it’s out, I encourage you to give Sunny Song a chance.

Thank you Raincoast Books for the free copy in exchange for an honest review. SUNNY SONG WILL NEVER BE FAMOUS will be out on June 1st, 2021!  

Camp – Lev A.C. Rosen

CampCamp by Lev A.C. Rosen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: May 26th, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, LGBTQIA+. Summer Camps, Inclusivity, Romance, Theatre, Masculinity


I am jealous. I want to go to this queer camp so badly. I did go to day camp when I was 9, which feels like a lifetime ago, but it was nothing – nothing – like Camp Outland. You know, I do really hope that camps like this one exist, because they seem to provide a much needed safe haven for teens and adolescence is not an easy period. Just knowing that there’s a beautiful environment with incredibly open people waiting for you during summer can be what gets you through your school year. Continue reading

Camp – Kayla Miller

42873833Camp by Kayla Miller

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Library
Published: 2019
Publisher: HMH BFYR
Recommended Age: 7+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Friendship Dynamics, Summer Camps, Social Isolation


It was good to spend some time with Olive again. In the first graphic novel, she had trouble expressing her creative side and communicating with her friend groups. In this companion, she and her good friend Willow are away at camp. Everything is going well in the beginning. Olive and Willow are sticking together but Olive wants to branch out a little and try different things, talk to more people, whereas Willow wants to stick with the familiar. Continue reading

Be Prepared – Vera Brosgol

30623067Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Received: Distributor
Published: April 24th, 2018
Publisher: First Second Books
Recommended Age: 10+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Summer Camps, Loneliness, Mean Girls


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! Continue reading

Razzle Dazzle Unicorn (Heavenly Nostrils #4)

razzleRazzle Dazzle Unicorn by Dana Simpson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Publication Date: September 20th, 2016
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Recommended Age: 7+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Graphic Novel, Christmas, Slice of Life, School, Friendship, Summer Camp


Dana Simpson’s Phoebe and Her Unicorn is back with more sparkles than ever! In this fourth volume, join in the adventure as Phoebe and Marigold confront messy rooms, trouble at school, and a nasty case of “Sparkle Fever.” Follow the pair back to Camp Wolfgang, where their old pals Sue (a.k.a. “Monster Girl”) and Ringo, the lake creature, remind them that being weird is WAY more fun than being normal. Continue reading

Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir

honor girlHonor Girl: A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
First Published: September 8th, 2015
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Graphic Memoir, Young Adult, LGBT, Summer Camps, Friendship


All-girl camp. First love. First heartbreak. At once romantic and devastating, brutally honest and full of humor, this graphic-novel memoir is a debut of the rarest sort. Continue reading