Summer Camp Shenanigans

Camp Shady Crook by Lee Gjertsen Malone

Publication Date: May 21, 2019

Summary From NetGalley:

Camp Shady CrookIt’s Ocean’s Eleven set in a summer camp as two kids try to one-up each other in a con competition at a camp that isn’t quite what it seems…

For Archie, the start of summer means another stint at Camp Shady Brook, where there is a lot more to the camp than meets the eye—just like Archie and his now blended family. But thanks to a con Archie developed last year, he’s finally somebody…and he’s not going to lose that status to the new girl, Vivian.

For Vivian, thanks to an incident That Shall Not Be Named or Spoken Of, her summer of exotic travels with Mom and Dad has turned into traveling to a dump of a summer camp in the middle of nowhere.

But thanks to perfect timing, Vivian soon finds herself in a ring of kids trying to out-con each other—and discovers Camp Shady Brook is more like Camp Shady Crook. And when one final, massive con could cost Vivian the first friends she’s had in a while, can she and Archie figure out a way to make things right?

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ARC provided by Simon and Schuster via NetGalley for an honest review.  

Confession:

This was a pretty fun read.  I enjoyed the characters and the plot, although the end was a little over the top.  

Archie was such a solid character.  At home he has issues with his family, at school, typical kid stuff.  But when he gets to camp he puts on this new persona, but he is still Archie underneath.  His cons are pretty simple and the ones we see do work, but he does have some strict rules about who he cons, not the poor scholarship kids and not the little kids, which I really liked about him.  He also feels guilt when one of the kids he cons was maybe not as well off as he thought.  His attitude towards Vivian was also very believable, and as their relationship develops you can tell that they will become very good friends.  

Vivian was a bit harder to like.  She is a bit snobbish and stand-offish to everyone.  As we come to know her, you understand why, but I wish she had been a bit kinder to the other kids.  Her budding friendship with Sasha, was wonderful to watch play out.  Sasha is also going to end up being a solid great friend for Vivian.

I loved both Sasha and Oliver.  Sasha was just so enthusiastic about camp, even when it really sucked.  And Oliver was the perfect right hand man to Archie, what Archie eventually realizes is a good friend too.    Oliver is often the voice of reason for some of Archie’s crazier schemes.  

The plot was a little bit draggy at times, but the cons were great.  Some of Archie’s advice to Vivian was also very standard heist stuff that you see all of the time in movies and tv, but that is ok.  Archie admits to learning most of what he knows by researching on the internet.  Ms. Hess, the camp director, was a believable villain.  We don’t see a whole lot of her in the story, but the stories of her make up for that, as do the times she does show up to make the campers lives miserable.  Archie and Vivian’s final con to get Ms. Hess to make things right is very well thought out and executed.  The ending is maybe a bit rushed and abrupt, but still well done.  

Overall an excellent middle grade book that would be great for a summer beach read, or better yet, while you are at camp!

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