My Bunkmate Hates Puppies

Disney-Hyperion. Apr. 2023. 144p. $14.99. ISBN 9781368084420; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9781368057400.
Gr 1-3–A charming opener to the “Camp Lil’ Vills” series centering Disney villains attending summer camp. The narrator and protagonist Bloom, daughter of a reformed sorcerer, likes to welcome all new campers and make them feel at home. That task has proven to be quite challenging when her new bunkmate arrives—a pint-size Cruella de Vil. The fashionable and snobby girl with white and black hair hates all creatures, expects everyone to serve her, and never cares enough to remember people’s names. Blooms starts to suspect that her bunkmate has ulterior motives for being there when Cruella becomes weirdly interested in the camp’s magical creatures, such as unicorns and the rare, furry Norbert. She is also fascinated by the camp’s special laundry machine, which creates clothing made from any material. Sporadic, black-and-white images reinforce the copy and make even little Cruella look super sweet. Silly details like color-changing pancakes and Glo-carts powered by fairy dust offer just the right amount of worldbuilding for those looking for Disney magic. Plus, there are spells and transformations aplenty. An appreciation of nature and the outdoors, and a time-honored celebration of friendship and ingenuity are the through line of this sweet tale. Beware: there is no redemption for the puppy-hating villainess, but a sweet friendship develops between the narrator and another camper that seems to be the series anchor in future volumes.
VERDICT Accessible language, short chapters with cliff-hangers, a fun twist, and lots of white space make this a great choice for children ready to venture into chapter books.

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