Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol | SLJ Review

Gr 5-8 –Brosgol has worked on acclaimed animated films, but she was once a lonely nine-year-old aching for friendship.

redstarBROSGOL, Vera. Be Prepared. illus. by Vera Brosgol. 256p. First Second. Apr. 2018. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781626724440; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781626724457.

Gr 5-8 –Brosgol has worked on acclaimed animated films, but she was once a lonely nine-year-old aching for friendship. Here, she relates the story of her monthlong experience at Russian summer camp, where she coped with the horrors of outhouses, feral wildlife, and bug bites, as well as with mean older cabinmates and alienation from her fellow campers. The author/illustrator reprises her cartoony character art and her detailed yet subtle background work. The book eschews the plot-driven and suspenseful storytelling of Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost in lieu of a slice-of-life narrative in which problems aren’t always neatly resolved. This lends a hard realism to the memoir, in spite of the adorable art style, as young Vera earns small victories and an understanding of herself rather than soaring triumph. The text is simple and accessible, but the relaxed pacing, characters who go often unpunished for cruel behavior, and the brief inclusion of an ill-fated romance set this title apart from more gentle middle grade works. VERDICT A gorgeous, emotional memoir worthy of any graphic novel collection.–Matisse Mozer, Los Angeles Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2018 issue.

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