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Camo Girl Paperback – June 5, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—The lone African American in her Nevada junior high school, sixth-grader Ella struggles with self-image, bullying, and shifting friendships. Tormented by the vitiligo on her face, she shuns mirrors and feels ostracized. Her one true friend is Zachariah (Z), a homeless loner classmate whose imaginative fantasies mask his troubled emotional state. When Bailey James, also African American, enrolls in her school and befriends Ella, her world begins to change. Ella is drawn to Bailey's popularity and friendship but doesn't want to lose Z. When he disappears, Ella and Bailey secretly hop a bus to Las Vegas to find him. Along the way, Ella discovers that Bailey has secrets and fears of his own. The three children have maternal support and love but miss their fathers. Ella's died young; Z's, a gambler, abandoned his family; and Bailey's soldier father is in treatment for PTSD. Ella's coming-of-age narrative reveals her growing awareness of the complexities of life and the burdens each person carries. Magoon writes with insight, wit, and compassion. Characters are appealing; action is well paced; and adolescent angst is palpable. Although Ella's skin condition and Z's psychological problems are not clearly defined, the trauma of both is conveyed. Ella is caught between a desire to hang out with Bailey and the popular crowd or remain loyal to eccentric Z, and her actions, musings, and guilt will resonate with readers.—Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC
(c) Copyright 2011.  Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Ella, Zachary, and Bailey are learning to live without their fathers. Ella keeps her head down at school as she mourns, partly to hide her uneven skin tone and partly to avoid connecting with anyone other than Z, her fragile best friend. When Bailey moves into town, Ella doesn�t just find another black kid in an otherwise white town; she gets taken by this outgoing, popular boy who wants to spend time with her, even as he hides his veteran father�s PTSD. Left essentially homeless by his father�s abandonment, Z copes by living in an imaginary world, and when Ella begins spending less time with him and more time with Bailey, he runs away. Ella and Bailey race to find him, and through the experience, Ella begins to understand that what she sees in the mirror is only one aspect of who she is. This novel, by the author of The Rock and the River (2009), is a sensitive, quietly powerful look at discovering inner strength, coping, and thriving�or not�in the face of tragedy. Grades 4-6. --Heather Booth --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 600 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; Reprint edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416978054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416978053
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Thompson on August 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As an educator and a mother, I'm always looking for well written material for the middle school level.
This story deals so eloquently with subjects such as autism, race and bullying in such a way that the author never has to put a label on any of it. It entertains and teaches about what it means to be a good person, and a true friend.
And it also lets our girls know that we are all beautiful in our own ways - so important for todays young girls.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently purchased a bunch of books on Amazon for my 13yr old daughter who said she didn't have any good books to read. This was one of those books. I chose it based purely on reviews.
Although I have not read it myself, but, decided to write this review based on the fact that last night she said "I am in the middle of reading a really good book mom" and when I asked what it was, it was this book, yay!!! As a mom I am always happy to hear that my daughter is reading a really good book (in her opinion)!
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Format: Hardcover
Though written in "normal" prose, the writing stood out to me from the get-go. There's something poetic about the author's use of language.

Ellie really wants to help her friend who fits in less than she does. Ellie must be there for her friend Z. He's not just a misfit, he's odd. There's something not quite right with him since his dad left. He's retreated into the make-believe world that might be okay for a younger person, but is not at all okay for a middle-schooler.

Ellie has some discoloration on her skin, and the mean guys call her "Camo Face." Sometimes she feels invisible, and sometimes she wishes she was invisible. When a new boy Bailey moves to town, he befriends her. Maybe it's because she has the only baseketball goal in town, or maybe it's because she's the only other African American at school. Regardless, they become friends. He stands up for her, and he even starts to understand her relationship with Z: "He needs me."

But Z doesn't understand, and it causes him to retreat further into himself.

I'm not doing this book justice. I love Ellie. I like Bailey. I love Ellie's mom and grandmother who are dealing with their own pain -- the loss of their husband/son -- Ellie's father. They all help Ellie to see that who she is on the inside is what matters and it's someone she can be proud of.

Kids change in middle school, and old friendships don't always stand. This book looks at why that might be, and also hint that sometimes change is good, and sometimes it's not even permanent.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Z is different because he has a great imagination. Ella is different because she's the only black student in the school. All they have is each other, the only two at a table in the cafeteria and no other kids to walk with after school. There used to be three of them, but, Millie, the girl they grew up with, went her own way after grade school and found a place among the popular crowd in middle school. Z doesn't care about being popular, but Ella wouldn't mind sitting with the popular kids at lunch or socializing with them outside of school. Will wanting to become part of a group become so important to her that she abandons Z?

Bailey James is used to being the new kid at school because his family moves around a lot. He's accepted by the popular crowd with no problem, but he's nothing like the ones who bully Z and Ella. He likes Ella and wants to be her friend, but that might be difficult, seeing that Z has claimed her as his own.

Ella's friend, Z, spent most of his time in a fantasy world, using his imagination to escape reality and this made him look strange in the eyes of everyone else at school. I liked that he had a great imagination; actually, a gift is what I'd call it. And it's okay to pretend, but escaping reality all together, that has to be a sign that a serious problem needs to be addressed. I was scared for Z sometimes, expecting someone to do more than throw food on him. Ella quickly came to his rescue when others bullied him and she joined him in his fantasy world because that was what he needed from her. She'd answer to milady and pretend to ride a horse because she truly cared about Z. And even when she was frustrated by the way he'd withdraw into his imaginary world when it was important to her that he deals with reality, she couldn't stay angry at him for long.
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By Genie on September 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love this book. I picked this book because I had to read it for school. I thought this book would be boring , but I liked the end. I recommend this book to people that like how they look, and want to be popular. It really only matter what on the inside.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Beginning 6th grade can be a nightmare for some kids. The nightmare is usually reserved for the unpopular, the awkward, the different. Ella and Z are the poster kids for the adolescent nightmare of middle school, unpopular, awkward and different. Ella is a narrator that many of us formerly "left out" kids can relate to. The hair that won't lay down right, the used to be best friends that are now the "popular kids" and the parents/grandparents that try to convince you of your greatness when everyone else thinks you are a freak. Ella tells her story with grace and is able to withstand the teasing, bullying and humiliation that her vitiligo invites from the class "jerks", all while never leaving the side of Zecheriah, her even more strange best friend.

When a new student, Bailey arrives at school, Ella feels a spark of hope. Bailey joins Ella as the only other African American student at their school, but he is also, confident and kind. Ella soon finds out that she and Bailey have more in common than being the only African American students at their school. Ella, Bailey and even Zechariah have all lost their fathers in very different, but equally life-altering ways.

Camo Girl is a heart-wrenching, heart-warming story about loss, friendship, growing up and finding hope. The vocabulary, themes and characters are rich and work well for instruction or pleasure reading.
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