Love and Pollywogs from Camp Calamity Paperback – June 14, 2011
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About the Author
Mary Hershey loves writing about the stuff she was forced to endure enjoyed when she was in middle school. She is the author of two other books about 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. She lives in Santa Barbara, and still loves a good afternoon snack. To learn more about Mary Hershey, visit her on the Web at www.maryhershey.com.
From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
You should know right off that even though my dad wears an orange prison jumpsuit to work and my sister, Maxey, could win an Olympic medal in the bossathon, I was the happiest girl in the whole state of Texas. In one week, I was headed to camp! I was so excited I wanted to jump up and down. But when you're nearly eleven, you're supposed to be past that. Instead, I talked about Camp Wickitawa until Mom said her ears were going to start spurting blood.
It's our school tradition at St. Dominic's that every fourth-grade student gets to go to camp for the week of spring vacation as long as they don't get any Fs, have lice, or do anything really bad. In the "bad" category, things had been circling the drain a few weeks back. One of my two best friends, Aurora Triboni, got suspended from school for roughing up a sixth grader who goes by the name of Booger Boy. After that happened, Aurora decided to go to public school at Sam Houston Elementary so she can play basketball with sixth-grade girls who are big like her. And I don't mean just tall. They wear bras that are all totally filled up.
But Principal Obermeyer said that even though Aurora goes to public school now, she could come to camp with us. This is why I adore my principal. Plus, she saved my life when I nearly got hit by lightning in a big storm a while ago. She isn't afraid of lightning or bullies, even though she used to be a little sister just like me. It gives a girl hope.
I checked my camp packing list, which I'd pinned up on my bulletin board in the room I share with Maxey, my big sister. Somebody had added a few things to my list!
Very funny, Maxey! If I even go within breathing distance of her stupid bulletin board, she goes ballistic. I got out my thickest, darkest marker and crossed off what she'd written. I was not going to let her ruin my good mood. Even though she's in seventh grade and has already been to camp, she was extremely jealous about me getting my turn. When she first got home from her camp, she talked about it for weeks and weeks. I was only a first grader then, but I soaked it all in. I memorized every single detail, and could probably find my way around Camp Wickitawa with my eyes closed.
I knew it has a big private lake where you can swim and ride in canoes. There's a little store called Totem Village that sells candy and souvenirs, and a giant fire pit for sing-alongs and marshmallow roasts. The big dining hall is called Mess and it has a soda machine with all the free refills you want (and no mothers watching to make you stop before your teeth rot).
The boys have their bunkhouses on the other side of camp, and you only have to see them sometimes. Which is good, because Maxey says that the boys go all mongo woodsy. They don't brush their teeth even though they're supposed to, and they eat live bugs and everything! I don't think Donal from my class would eat a live bug, even if he is a boy. Which is why my friends and I don't mind if he hangs out with us sometimes. (He might eat a dead one, though.) Maxey might be making some of that stuff up, but I'll know soon enough. The girls don't have to eat bugs, and we sleep on cots in wooden cabins. And we each get a small dresser for our things. My own dresser! At home I have to share one with Maxey.
And if you are a very good camper, you might win Outstanding Camper of the Week. They pick just one from your whole class. I wanted to win it so bad it kept me awake nearly the whole month before camp. But I didn't just want it. I needed to win it.
Outside the principal's office was a long hallway with rows of framed pictures of all the other fifty-seven kids who had won it. One of them is my mom! One of them is not Maxey, and she's still sore about it. Now it was my turn to take my place on the wall. I could earn back my family's honor. My dad didn't only steal a lot of money from the people in our town. He stole our family's good name, and I wanted it back. Everyone would see the picture in the Tyler Wash Tribune of me standing next to Principal Obermeyer. From then on, whenever people thought of the Maloney family, they'd think that the town black sheep had turned snowy white.
Going to camp was the biggest thing that had ever happened to me! I was even taking our special big suitcase, which I'd never gotten to use in my whole life. I'd never been on a vacation before. Not even once. For one, our family--which was down to me, Mom, and Maxey--couldn't afford it, and two, my mom never stopped working. She was a nearly famous girls' high school basketball coach, and if she wasn't coaching, she worked extra games as a referee Just to Make Ends Meet. Which they might have if she wasn't trying to pay back some of the people my dad stole money from.
I had all my favorite clothes washed and rolled up on the bed, army-style, like Grandpa did his. Before he died last year, he taught me a lot of cool stuff like that. I can still hardly think about him without wishing I was with him when he went on to the Great Big Pasture. Pretty Girl, his old white cat, sat right on top of Grandpa until it was time for the ambulance to take him away. And one of the paramedics got her scratchy signature right on his arm.
I lifted Pretty Girl from the nest she'd made in the suitcase and gave her a soft kiss on the head. She was so old and skinny she felt like a chicken carcass with no meat left on it. Her purr-o-meter started up, and I sang Grandpa's favorite song, "Puff the Magic Dragon," to her. She loved hearing it. Pretty Girl was going to miss me bad. I'd be super lonesome for her too, but I had a feeling I'd be so busy having a blast that Pretty Girl was going to get the worst of the missing.
Shows you what I know.
- Grade level : 3 - 7
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0375850880
- ISBN-13 : 978-0375850882
- Item Weight : 4.8 ounces
- Reading level : 8 - 12 years
- Dimensions : 6.17 x 0.59 x 7.66 inches
- Publisher : Yearling; Reprint edition (June 14, 2011)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #7,700,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I just finished the third book in Mary Hershey's series about Effie Maloney, and it is the best Effie book yet. I've always loved these books--Effie is a wonderful hero, and she gives me a window into being a young girl in a Catholic school which, for me, is a lot like traveling to another country. Her relationship with her sister is just complicated enough, and her mother, basically rocks.
Love and Pollywogs from Camp Calamity also rocks. (And I had already decided that and planned to write this review BEFORE I saw my name amongst all the "former...campers" who shared their camp stories with Mary while she was writing the story.)
Maybe I liked this book so much because camp wasn't, by any means, the highlight of my childhood. Mary hit every single nail on the head about what can and does make camp, at the very least, a challenge for kids who aren't natural extroverts, who suffer from homesickness (aka altitude sickness!), who worry just a little too much about their camping "success." Sure, that's part of it. But, really, it's Mary's writing. She just GOT Effie so beautifully on the page--from a writer's point of view, it's absolutely clear that this author absolutely loves, understands, empathizes AND sympathizes with her hero. Mary does an incredible job of loading up the obstacles, of "making bad things happen" to Effie...SO many bad things. I'm not sure I've ever found myself so desperately ROOTING for a character before. We know she has the strength to survive it all, but we want her to do more than survive, and how are you supposed to do that when the experience you have been waiting for, in utter anticipation, for YEARS turns out to be a thing that scares you down to your toes?
Effie does. No spoilers, but she makes camp HERS, because of who she is--the girl who is the BEST bff on the planet, the girl who is truly giving and helpful, and the girl who can get so caught up in her plans to change things for the better that she barely realizes they're working.
And Mary manages all this without a single drop of sappiness, and without stepping out of Effie's great voice for a second.
Go back, start with the first book (MY BIG SISTER IS SO BOSSY SHE SAYS YOU CAN'T READ THIS BOOK, then move on to Book 2 (10 LUCKY THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED TO ME SINCE I NEARLY GOT HIT BY LIGHTENING), and THEN pick up LOVE AND POLLYWOGS. Get to know Effie. You won't regret it.
But before she can even pack, things start going wrong. It turns out Maxey will be working in the Mess Hall. Add to that the facts: she can't swim and her cat Pretty Girl will miss her horribly. Once she gets to camp, Effie's sure she's developed altitude sickness (it's NOT home-sickness! No matter what anyone says.) St. Dom's has turned into Camp Calamity. How will Effie ever make it through this week?
Author Mary Hershey has written a very funny book for middle graders and anyone who has ever had to "endure" a week of sleep away camp. Readers will cheer for big-hearted Effie Maloney as she figures out how to survive Camp Calamity.
-- reviewed by Michelle Delisle