Saturday, July 31, 2010

Love and Pollywogs from Camp Calamity, by Mary Hershey

Effie Maloney is dying to go to camp! Ever since her big sister Maxey had come home from her end of 4th grade experience at Camp Wickitawa, Effie has been excited. She can’t imagine anything better than a week away from home, her sister and her family with her 2 best friends Nit (short for Trinity) and Aurora at camp! She is super happy that the Principal of her school is letting one of her bffs Aurora go to camp with them, since Aurora doesn’t even go to St. Dom’s anymore!

Effie has been planning and planning, but there are a couple of things that she definitely is not ready for.  The first is that big sister Maxey will be at camp with her. Sure she will be working in the kitchen, but still…Effie really wanted this to be her year at camp. Secondly, she is stunned when she finds she doesn’t even want to get off the bus! All the planning, all of the reading of the camp handbook, all of the anticipation seems to have evaporated.

Effie is beside herself. Here she is at Camp Wickitawa with Aurora and Nit and Effie can tell that there is something terribly wrong. She feels like she can’t breathe and she’s cold all over. She is trying to be excited, but she’s finding it incredibly difficult. Add the fact that everyone else seems to be finding their place with ease, and Effie is feeling more like an outcast than ever! She’s not liking the food, she’s not connecting with her friends, she’s the only 4th grader who can’t swim, and the only thing that she seems to be good at is walking her bunkmates to the biffy in the middle of the night.

Effie’s CIT Cricket says that soon she’ll be so busy that her mind will be off of feeling badly. Effie’s not sure she believes Cricket, but since her mom is away from home at a well deserved retreat, there’s not much she can do about it but try.

The funny thing is, things do get a bit better without Effie even noticing.First, there is Chica who lives at the camp and decides that Effie is going to be her friend. Next, there is the cute boy Swat who works in the kitchen and always remembers that she likes to drink iced tea. Then there is the fact that her friends are rallying behind her when they realize that she is uncomfortable. There is nothing like having 2 best friends!

This is the third book featuring Effie Maloney, but readers will have no problem picking it up if they have not read the first two (Effie Maloney: My Big Sister is So Bossy She Says You Can’t Read This Book and 10 Lucky Things That Have Happened to Me Since I Nearly Got Hit by Lightning). Effie is a super likable, if somewhat worry filled, character who readers will root for. This installment sees her getting a little deeper in her judging of other people as well as her understanding of herself.

Mary Hershey writes with a truly hilarious voice that had me laughing out loud several times during my read (starting with one of the funniest first lines I have come across in a long time)! Effie and her friends are heartfelt and believable, and most readers will see themselves somewhere in these pages.

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