Camp by Kayla Miller, 224 pp, RL 4

Camp by Kayla Miller
Review Copy from HMH Books
Miller's debut graphic novel Click came out in January of this year and now, mere months later, we have the fantastic follow-up, Camp! In Click, we met Olive, friend to everyone and able to move comfortably between cliques. However, when everyone pairs up to perform in the talent show, Olive finds herself left out, although she doesn't necessarily feel left out. With the subtle help of her thoughtful aunt, Olive finds a way to be true to herself and perform in the show. In Camp, Olive is once again challenged by new experiences and old friends. 
Miller gives readers a taste of what's to come as Olive and her friend Willow are driven to the bus that will take them to Camp Acorn by their mothers. As Willow's mother goes through the long, long list of things she packed for her, from medicine to stationary, a backup toothbrush, emergency phone numbers, and nose strips in case her snoring bothers her bunkmates, Olive's mom tries to offer reassurances, reminding her that they requested that the girls bunk in the same cabin. The panel illustrating the goodbye hugs that the two mothers give their daughters gives readers vividly illustrates their different parenting styles.

Once they are at Camp Acorn, Willow's anxiety and homesickness are apparent immediately. Withdrawn and quiet, Willow is not interested in making new friends, and her vibes flow over into Olive's experience. Olive is clearly enjoying herself and her interactions with others, but she is also conscientious that while she is having fun, her friend isn't. She begins to sacrifice her own interests and experiences  - and sleep - to comfort Willow the best she can. As with Click, there are timely interventions from understanding adults, in this case, the camp counselors. When Willow acts out in jealousy, ruining a project Olive and her new friends were working on, Olive tries to talk it out with Willow but gets the silent treatment. Time apart is time well spent, though, and with support from their counselors, the two find a way to mend their friendship and pursue new ones.

Like the masterful Raina Telgemeier, Miller has a gift for remembering the experiences and emotions of childhood and getting them on the page. Her illustrations are fantastic and her characters diverse. In her two graphic novels, not only does she lift up the complexities of friendship for girls, but she shines a light on aspects I haven't seen on the page before now. From not feeling the need to settle into one click to not knowing how to navigate a new environment with and old friend and feelings of responsibility and guilt when this friend struggles to cope, Miller is quickly proving herself as indispensable to the shelves as Telgemeier. And I have no doubt, that, like Telgemeier, boys will read her books as well.

Don't Miss CLICK!

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