I came across this book as I was looking for stories set at camps, and I really enjoyed it. SECRETS FROM THE SLEEPING BAG is actually the third book in a series, but you don’t need to read the others first. Here’s a brief description:
During four weeks at Camp Krakatow (pronounced Crack-A-Toe), Sofia Becker writes all the juiciest information in her notebook, so she can continue her blog when she returns home. S’mores, crafts, bug juice, water sports, boys(!) . . . Sofia doesn’t want to forget one second of sleepaway camp!
And here are the five things I loved most:
1. The format – I loved the way this was written as a journal with her doodles throughout. As a result, it doesn’t really have chapters. It has snippets of things that happen at camp, with illustrations on the side. Sometimes the drawings show Sofia talking to someone with conversation bubbles. Sometimes they illustrate something she learned at camp. Often they are funny asides, almost like footnotes.
2. Her lists – From why she doesn’t want to go to camp, to the items in her “secret survival kit,” to the rules for having more than one crush, Sofia loves to make lists, and they were great for giving insight into her character.
3. The desire to reinvent herself – This is such a universal truth for kids in middle school. They’re still figuring out who they are, and they continually reinvent themselves during the process. Sofie sees camp as a way to make herself popular.
“No one will know if you’re popular. It’s like summer camp erases all your middle-school history for those four weeks. Which means you can be anyone you want. Yes! You can reinvent yourself! So I’m going to totally popularize myself this summer.”
Of course, things don’t go exactly the way she plans, resulting in my next point …
4. The humor – A lot of funny stuff happens to Sofia. Most of the time it’s her own fault, but she’s good about laughing at herself. Like when she boasts about swimming and then gets a cramp, or when she picks up tissue paper with glue all over her hands. A lot of girls would just cry in embarrassment, but she shrugs it off and turns it into a funny journal entry. She also has a tendency to accidentally fling around food, which has some hilarious results.
5. The prank war – Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved THE PARENT TRAP, but I loved that this book featured a prank war between two cabins. It’s funny how it escalates with each side getting more creative and the pranks getting more elaborate. I also loved how the counselor got in on it once she got pranked. What’s camp without a good prank war? (Although as much as I enjoyed reading about it, I’m glad I was never part of one :).)
This was a quick, fun read that I highly recommend. It would appeal to reluctant readers, too. Has anyone read the other books in this series? I’m sure they’re just as much fun!