Distress Signal

Scholastic. Oct. 2020. 272p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338607444.
Gr 4-7–Lavender has been looking forward to the sixth grade field trip to Chiricahua National Park in Arizona. The class will go on hikes and stargaze with the newly purchased class telescope. Plus, she’ll get three days of hanging out with her best friend, Marisol. However, nothing is going to plan; Marisol is ignoring her and spending time with mean girl Rachelle. When the class accidently goes off trail, Lavender decides to prank Rachelle so Marisol will see Rachelle’s true colors. Then she hears a flash flood warning on her ham radio, and while the rest of her class escapes, Lavender, Rachelle, Marisol, and fellow student John get separated from the group. With no signal to call for help, limited water, and no maps, the students must work together to survive, while overcoming their friendship drama. The story is easy to read with a straightforward plot, and Lambert skillfully hooks readers with compelling chapter endings. The friend drama among the three girls is authentic for their ages, but some readers may find the meanness once they are in a survival situation, unrealistic.
VERDICT Readers who enjoyed Rebecca Behrens’s The Disaster Days or Watt Key’s Deep Water will enjoy Lambert’s blend of survival themes, focus on teamwork, and friendship drama in her fast-paced plot. Fans of Dusti Bowling’s The Canyon’s Edge will also find the similar wilderness and survival themes intriguing.

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