Algonquin. Mar. 2023. 352p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781643752662.
Gr 4-8–Summer camp is a classic setting in children’s literature, but few are as warm and affirming as the camp in Melleby and Sass’s novel. Told in alternating perspectives, the book follows two children during their first year at an LGBTQIA+ camp: eager but anxious Abigail (she/her), a recently out lesbian, is yearning for accepting friends, whereas aloof, nonbinary Kai (e/em) would much rather leave in favor of eir parkour training. The two make an unlikely alliance during a camp-wide competition. Through crushes and the big feelings that come with having a better understanding of yourself, they learn how fulfilling true friendship can be. Melleby and Sass manage to teach readers a lot about identity, empathy, and boundaries without bogging down the text or adopting a didactic tone. They also deploy just enough humor to remind readers that growing up is difficult and awkward, but not without its share of laughs. Although Kai and Abigail are depicted as white, a wide range of identities—not just gender and sexuality, but race, religion, and ability—are represented, and it only feels natural that all of these folks would be welcome at Camp QUILTBAG.
VERDICT A timely and necessary addition to any elementary or middle school library, especially as LGBTQIA+ children are seeking examples of loving communities who fully embrace every part of them.

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