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Troop 142 Paperback – August 5, 2011
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Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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Be warned: this is not a book to give to prospective Boy Scouts, and not a story about homesick children who learn the joys of community, new friendships, and never giving up. During a week in the life of Troop 142, two brothers and their father experience the conformist and sometimes dangerous principals of institutions and the often-brutal emotions young boys wield as weapons against one another. Though the two boys undergo various humiliations, and the father suffers his own inability to navigate relationships with a fellow counselor, the details are handled with effective realism, and nothing feels overblown or wantonly cruel; the camp is never portrayed as anything more grotesque than a place that simply breeds unfortunate group dynamics and moldering ideals. It is never inappropriately disturbing, and it’s all perfectly believable, right down to the profanity, homophobia, and experimental drug use, all cleverly illustrated with enough realism to give it weight but with rounded figures and minimalist features that tend to take off the sharpest edges. Grades 10-12. --Jesse Karp
Troop 142 demonstrates once again that Mike Dawson is a poet of adolescent awkwardness, digging deep into the dark side of teenage - and adult - masculinity to reveal the brittle, wounded humanity at its heart. --Dylan Horrocks, author of Hicksville
Mike Dawson has two chief virtues as a writer: writing dialogue with an almost painful level of verisimilitude, and an understanding of the dynamics of teenagers that manages to emphasize the Darwinian nature of their relationships along with the naivete of youth... Visually, the key to this comic's success is his ability to convey body language, gesture and character interaction, especially since subtext is such an important part of what s occurring in the narrative.
The comic raises interesting questions regarding the idealism of Scout law and the realities of being a teenager in 1995 (the setting of the story). Joining the Scouts implies a certain kind of adherence to ideals, but what Dawson raises is that sometimes this may be more the ideals of the parent rather than the boy. And even among the parents, the Scout ideals fall by the wayside when it comes time to wield authority.--Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
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In my troop, we told dirty jokes (actually, *I* told the dirty jokes. They listened). We harassed each other by throwing rocks at the roof of the Lolly (outhouse), hung a pair of dirty underwear outside a victim's tent, called each other names, and even engaged in fist fights. That's what boys do. We're awful.
But the opposite is also true. Scouts grows boys into men. We join because our parents want us to, but after that, we were on our own. We stayed because we want to be there. We were our own leaders, not the adults. And a boy long involved in scouting sets a good example to one who is just beginning. So the "Lord of the Flies" scenario, over time, evolves into something more civilized.
I liked this book. It took me back to my own days at scout camp. But I would have liked it better if the sour had been balanced with the sweet, if the experiences of Troop 142 had included some accomplishments in addition to the disappointments. The only positive interaction occurs when the Scoutmaster counsels a boy who quit the lifesaving test. Unfortunately, the book is otherwise a one-way trip that ends in despair.
In short: The art and storytelling are great. You don't need to know anything about the Boy Scouts to get into it. It looks great on your bookshelf (great design). Pick up this book.