Friday, August 19, 2016
Middle Grades Pick: Just Like Me
by Nancy J. Cavanaugh
"Tween readers will find much to identify with in this charming and refreshingly wholesome coming-of-age story. . . Filled with slapstick humor and fast-paced action, the novel will engage reluctant readers, while offering fuel for deep contemplation by those ready to tackle questions of identity and belonging."
says School Library Journal
"From pillow fights to pinkie promises, sock wars to s’mores, a red thread connects this energetic summer-camp story with Julia’s deeper journey to accept herself."
Megan McDonald, award winning author of the Judy Moody series and Sisters Club trilogy
Who can resist a summer camp story?
Just Like Me is more than just a summer camp feel good story about the woods, campfires, s'mores, canoes, and singalongs. It's a voyage of self discovery and self acceptance for main character and narrator Julia. She worries how she will ever get through a camp with her two Chinese "sisters." Though not sisters by blood, Julia, Avery and Becca were all adopted by American families from the same Chinese orphanage during the same time period. Avery and Becca live close to each other and become best friends who love everything from the birth culture. They eat Cheetos with chopsticks and fan themselves with delicate Chinese fans. The girls are even learning Cantonese and Mandarin. Julia, on the other hand, is the "odd one out." She identifies with her adopted family's heritage: half Italian, half Irish but decides to throw in half Chinese. Julia's mother pushes her to camp telling her it's a great time to be closer to her sisters.
Told through a series of introspective journal entries, the reader will see Julia become more accepting of herself and the others as the book progresses. When the three "sisters" find themselves as roommates in a cabin with super-competitive campers and competition stars Vanessa and Meredith and Vanessa's "sort of" cousin Gina, they must learn to work together to win camp games.
Spot-on tween dialog makes this read a winner! Julia's journal entries add to the action of each chapter and allow the readers to connect with Julia's inner thoughts.
The cover art is a thing of beauty. Right away, you know the book is about summer camp. The girls in three canoes, a bottle of suntan lotion, a captured butterfly in a jar, dirty knees, mosquito bites covered with band aids and the perfect serene blue of the water capture that lazy summer day on the lake. The cover is sheer bliss!
For all those kids who never got a chance to go to camp (like me!) Just Like Me is that summer story they will embrace.
Highly recommended grade 4-7. Cavanaugh just gets it right!
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.