Like Bug Juice on a Burger

illus. by Matthew Cordell. 176p. Abrams/Amulet. Apr. 2013. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-1-4197-0190-0. LC 2012033169.
Gr 2–4—This is a really sweet novel in verse and a good sequel to Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie (Abrams, 2011), though it works fine as a stand-alone. It is summer, and Eleanor's grandmother is sending her to Camp Wallumwahpuck. Though excited at first, she quickly finds herself homesick, as the only camp food she can stomach are the salads and rolls, and her bunk bed is near spiderwebs. Not only that, but she is stuck in the baby swimming group. Eleanor is mortified and miserable and just wants to go home. Of course, it is not long before she finds herself making friends, taking care of an adorable goat, and learning to swim. Maybe camp is not as awful as she thought. Eleanor is a likable character, and kids will relate to her unease at being far away from her family. The ending wraps up nicely, as the story is more about how she copes with a situation that is less than ideal and does not involve Eleanor having a complete change of heart. A good purchase for collections where the first book is popular.—Elizabeth Swistock, Orange County Public Library, VA
As a girl, Eleanor's mom loved Camp Wallumwahpuck so much that Eleanor is sure she will, too. But as readers of Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie (rev. 5/11) know, Eleanor is a worrier, and camp offers lots of opportunities for worrying as well as missing home. Right away, she trips on a tree root, scraping up her hands, knees, and chin: "I just lay there, / sprawled on the ground / like dirty underwear." The short lines offer an expressive form for bringing out feelings without harping on them, so Eleanor stays sympathetic, and Cordell's funny cartoon sketches add humor and detail. Through one series of pictures, kids who have never encountered tetherball can see how the game works while being entertained by the gestures the two girls are making as they play. Just as Eleanor has sent off a coded letter to her parents that means she wants to leave, she begins to find activities she enjoys, like visiting a baby goat on a farm. Through hard work in her embarrassingly babyish swimming class, she progresses to the next level, and by the end of camp Eleanor has found much to like. Sternberg gets all of the details exactly right, from the "orange, oozing sloppy joes" to the frustrations of trying to swim in a life jacket. susan dove lempke

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