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Camp Dork (Pack of Dorks) Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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"With good humor, Vrabel explores the pitfalls of emerging preteenhood. This quick read nonetheless effectively delves into interpersonal pitfalls that will be familiar to most older grade schoolers, and Lucy's developing insight may even provide a few hints for staying on the right path. Honest, funny, and entertaining." Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Beth Vrabel and Pack of Dorks:
Lucy’s perfectly feisty narration, emotionally resonant situations and the importance of the topic all elevate this effort well above the pack.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Pack of Dorks is the pack I want to join.” Amanda Flower, author of Agatha Award nominee Andi Unexpected
Vrabel paints a realistic depiction of tween life, particularly its emotional confusion. Preteen readers will connect with Lucy’s personal struggles and be entertained by her disastrous attempts at camp life.” Booklist
About the Author
Beth Vrabel grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. She won a short-story contest in fourth grade and promptly decided writing was what she was going to do with her life. Although her other plansbecoming a wolf biologist, a Yellowstone National Park ranger, and a professional roller skaterdidn’t come to fruition, she stuck with the writing. She is the author of Pack of Dorks and the upcoming A Blind Guide to Stinkville. Beth lives with her wonderful husband, two charming children, a spoiled rotten puppy, and two fat guinea pigs in Canton, Connecticut.
Sky Pony Press, with our Good Books, Racehorse and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of books for young readerspicture books for small children, chapter books, books for middle grade readers, and novels for young adults. Our list includes bestsellers for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, and the environment, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.
Top customer reviews
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In this sequel to Pack of Dorks, Lucy’s time at camp nudges her on a journey of self-discovery. Lucy explores her feelings about her new best friend who transforms physically and socially, the flush of emotions when she thinks about boys – especially Sam, and her compulsion to arrange couples in neat and tidy relationships. All this while she struggles to get a decent supper and keep everyone from hating her!
My favorite thing about this book is the dialogue. As I read, I could really hear the kids interacting… their different voices, noisy sound effects, and gurgles of bodily functions… just like kids I know.
Lucy and her friends are real – kind of like a younger Breakfast Club, where stereotypes and prejudices only get you so far. Like the Brat Pack, Lucy and her Pack of Dorks find that facing the truth about yourself and others is the real prize.
While my reading tastes skew older (like the 40-something mom I am), I enjoyed Lucy and her friends. Author Beth Vrabel offers insightful nuggets that can drive even grown-ups to make some changes in how they view and treat others.
When we meet Lucy again in Camp Dork, she seems to have things under control- well, as under control as can be for her! Her small but tight group of newer friends (self-appointed pack of dorks) are planning to attend a week-long summer sleep-away camp. While Lucy is not entirely on board- what if she misses her parents, her new baby sister and embarrasses herself by being seen as immature?- the thought of her pack going together (and her grandma coming along to work at the camp) seems enough to convince her.
At the very last minute, however, her now-closest-of-the-pack friend Sam cancels when he is invited to a first-class gymnastics camp. And, unfortunately, things don't get too much better for Lucy from there. While the camp itself is way less than impressive and Lucy can't get a handle on things, some of her pack seem to be...flourishing. They are making friends, excelling at sports, and kind of (unintentionally) leaving Lucy in the dust. Could it be that Lucy is, once again, going to be alone? Out of her pack and having to fend for herself like a lone wolf? Lucy makes some serious errors in judgement when she tries to control her friends and force her pack to stay together: by badmouthing select campers, spreading rumours on 'who likes who', and spilling very personal details about her friends. Like a freight-train, you can see Lucy barreling down a destructive path; you want to reach out and just shout STOP! Vrabel, however, manages to maintain an endearing and honest emotional- and heartfelt- quality to Lucy: she is young girl who makes mistakes, but her honesty and self-reflexiveness allow for her to slowly but surely admit to her wrongdoings, and then sincerely try to make amends.
Vrabel has done a solid job over the course of the two books creating an open, gutsy, imperfect, earnest and funny character in Lucy. Her narrative voice rings as believable, and the mistakes she makes, and the unfortunate meanness of other kids- and how she tries to make things better- will be keenly felt by readers. While there are some secondary storylines/plot turns as well as characters over the course of the two books that feel slightly commonplace, or supporting characters that feel too simply one-dimensional, on the whole, the Pack of Dork titles are poignant and affecting, and Vrabel's writing is clear and resonant. You cannot help but hope for the best for Lucy and her pack. I hope we get more (mis)adventures of Lucy, Sam and the pack in future books!
Readers who enjoy the work of authors such as Joanne Rocklin, Carol Weston, Heather Vogel Frederick, or those looking to try out middle grade titles that touch more openly on growing pains, making mistakes and learning to be true to oneself, might especially appreciate the Pack of Dorks titles. I would definitely suggest beginning with Pack of Dorks before diving into Camp Dork: reading the introduction to Lucy (and her family), and about her fall from popularity, serious slip-ups, standing up to bullies, and growth are pretty key to getting into the rhythm of Camp Dork.
I received a copy of Camp Dork courtesy of Sky Pony Press in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.