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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

The fun begins at summer camp

June 25, 2013

As summer gets underway, lots of children prepare for what is often the first time away from home — a sleep-away camp: lots of outdoor activities (swimming, archery, hiking — more?), camp fires, camaraderie and independence.

Sleep-away camps can be a fine way to allow children to connect with nature and start to figure thing out alone (though with guidance, of course). It can be downright transformative.

All children should have a camp experience. If it can't be gotten in person, then maybe the next best thing is to vicariously experience camp.

And that's just the focus of a new series called Boys Camp. The first installment, Zack's Story (Sky Pony) by Cameron Dokey introduces readers — boys and girls — to Camp Wolf Trail.

All new campers are welcomed to Camp Wolf Trail with a chatty, informative letter that includes what to expect and what to pack. City kid Zack Wilson is excited about his first camp adventure; he feels like an expert because of his favorite book, The Outdoor Adventure Guide which he takes to camp.

Zack soon learns that even the best book may not be the best substitute for experience. But Zack isn't a quitter and shows the other boys in Birch Cabin that he is more than up to the challenges that they face — especially when confronted with a truly dangerous situation.

Young readers will share Zack's camp experience through the engaging narrative, glimpsing his thoughts and worries (which are italicized) and are sure to empathize with him as well as with the other campers. The characters feel real — as do their interpersonal relationships, internal — and external — conflicts. Even the setting comes alive in what promises to be a fine new series for readers as young as 7 up to 11 year olds.

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