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Chiggers Paperback – June 17, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–Abby is back for another summer at camp. Her friend, Rose, three years older and now a cabin assistant, cannot spend much time with her so she seeks out new friends. Deni, a city girl who produces a constant stream of conversation about boys, soon comes down with a case of chiggers, and no one is sorry to see her leave. Shasta, a raven-haired girl, replaces her. She was late to arrive, she says, due to being struck by lightning. As is common, the cabinmates cannot all get along, and the others turn against Abby for befriending Shasta. Throw in summer crushes and particle-board camp food, and reading Chiggers provides a ticket to summer fun. Larson delicately handles both the usual middle-school angst and the additional pressures that come with being somewhat different. The style is more Craig Thompson (Goodbye, Chunky Rice [Pantheon, 2006]) than Shojo Beat, and the content is perfect for upper elementary and middle school students.–Sarah Krygier, Solano County Library, Fairfield, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Nerdy, naive Abby can’t wait to return to summer camp and see Rose, the older girl who was her friend last year. But this year Rose is busy, and Abby, irritated and hurt, must find someone else to hang out with. Will it be Shasta, the new girl who nobody likes but who shares some of Abby’s interests; or punky Zoe (whose language reflects her desire to be supercool) and Beth, Zoe’s hanger-on? It’s the familar friendship story, unfolding in somewhat jerky episodes done up in sturdy black-and-white artwork reminiscent of scratchboard. The background will be familiar to any girl who ever went to camp, as will the story’s emotional content: the hurtful backbiting, the jealousy, the fear of being ostracized, the rage at being duped, and the complete preoccupation of a first crush. There’s even a sweet scene of a first delightful kiss. This may be well-trod territory, but it’s traversed with a freshness, sureness, and understanding that speak very well for Larson, who was recongnized with a 2007 Eisner Award for new cartooning talent. Grades 6-8. --Stephanie Zvirin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Hope Larson is an amazing visual storyteller. Her soft drawings are often wispy like ocean waves, pulling the reader in their current. The panels are full of side notes, pointing out details that might otherwise be missed or giving further explanation to pieces of the overall narrative. In this way, Larson not only creates within her young readers an excitement of discovering all that the world has to offer, but also in the comic book form as a medium for said discovery. It opens up the reading experience to be about more than just the people who are at a book's center, but the naturalistic world they inhabit.
Chiggers, by Hope Larson, falls in that category, with a young adult focus.
Abby goes to summer camp, again. Her older friend is too busy for her (now an employee of the camp), her bunkmates talk behind everyone's backs, and the new girl, Shasta, is full of... stories? Hit by lightning? Has a long-distance internet boyfriend? Has "problems" getting oxygen to her cells?
Abby finds herself torn between wanting to fit in, having adventures, avoiding nerds, meeting boy nerds, and more. She is a "tween," sensing that she has the spirit of the child, but the social needs of the teen.
Hope Larson's sketches are wonderfully suited for the text. She is a master at the "dramatic pause" with the correct sketch. Highlights include:
- Two girls salivating over a mental image of rocker Ricky Vee without his shirt (p. 14).
- Egyptian Rat Screw card game instructions (p. 16)! I know this game as "Egyptian Rat Killer," adding the rule that you can slap on the play of any 10 card. No jewelry wearing allowed. Play it once, and you'll know what I mean.
- Chigger description (p. 24). However, they really don't burrow under your skin. The intense itching is your allergic reaction to their saliva.
- The reaction of Shasta to the idea of a home without a computer (p. 43).
- Instructions for making a friendship bracelet (p. 57).
- Discussion of chicken parts sandwiches and jell-o from horse hooves (p.65).
- Total bliss then profound sadness in the shower (p. 96-98).
- The notion that a piece of lightning is still in Shasta, like a splinter, waiting to come out (p. 153).
There's an age where kids will find this book "too juvenile." I think the 10-14 year olds will find it of particular interest. And I sense that more girls than boys will find it interesting.
By the way, as someone who once had over one hundred chigger bites below the belt, I guarantee you that it would make camp very, very uncomfortable.
Who knows? You may use the "chiggers defense" someday!
Maybe it's because I haven't read enough graphic novels, but at times I found it hard to tell the characters apart using the pictures. Two of the campers looked a great deal alike to me, and I kept having to go back and figure out who was who. I also found myself wanting a little more depth of story than this format allows. But in general, I really enjoyed this read. I liked the things you CAN do in a graphic novel you can't do as easily in regular books, like break out and give illustrated instructions for making a friendship bracelet or include small details in pictures that advance the story if you notice them.
There was a good deal of character depth to Abby for a short book---I felt I understood her and she was very realistically drawn---literally and figuratively.
I'm going to give this book to an avid 10 year old reader I know who hasn't really read graphic novels either, and I think she will be pleasantly surprised by it!
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Written and Illustrated by Hope Larson
Comic book artist Hope Larson (creator...Read more