By Anna, 23 July 2018
Maybe the others would have believed me. Maybe not. But I wasn’t going to tell them. This was just for me. – Vera
Every summer, all of Vera’s friends go off to camp. She never has. Now she is.
Vera is Russian, and as much as she tries to fit in with her American friends, she still feels like the odd one out. After a bit of a disaster with her birthday sleepover, Vera hears about a Russian camp called O.R.R.A. from a girl at her church, and she is determined to go there. She thinks that she won’t be that left out, because everyone else would be Russian, like her. She isn’t prepared for the camp ahead of her.
Once she gets there, Vera changes her mind about camp. Her tent mates, who are five years older then her, bring candy even though the camp doesn’t allow it. The toilets are filthy. There is no electricity or running water and, most importantly, she has no friends. Camp is going downhill for her.
But soon enough, Vera gets used to the dirty toilets and learns how to deal with her her tent mates and their mean friends. She even makes a friend herself. Unexpected things and incidents that Vera isn’t prepared for occur. She learns to deal with those incidents and make the most of her time at camp.
I liked this book because it’s funny, sad, intriguing all at once. It’s also very suspenseful. In other words, it’s unputdownable. I think that this book is good for kids ages 9-12 because sometimes it is hard to understand, or it may be confusing for some people.
Mum’s take: Be Prepared is a toe-curlingly honest, heart-warmingly humorous and utterly relatable autobiographical graphic novel about a nine-year old girl’s quest to find a place where she belongs. Elements of the main character’s Russian heritage and her Russian orthodox faith feature boldly in the olive and sage coloured pages, making this a unique and engrossing read. To top it off, Vera (the author) is an exceptional cartoonist, possessing the remarkable ability to infuse her characters with a wide range of emotions with just a few strokes of her pen, creating a visual feast for the eyes that you will want to return to again and again. A wonderfully refreshing and important summer read especially for anyone who has ever felt left out and alone.
For ages 9 and up.