Summer campers vow to make each other popular in their respective social circles.
Bea, a white girl, and Maisy, a mixed-race girl with white and Filipinx heritage, had been best friends until Maisy joined a popular clique reminiscent of the one in Mean Girls. Now a year has passed without a word between the two rising middle schoolers until they meet on the bus taking them to Camp Amelia for the next six weeks. Here the tables are turned, as veteran camper Bea has become tight with fellow bunkmates over the years, and Maisy finds herself on the outside for once when she’s placed in the Sunflower Bunk along with Bea and her friends. In this series opener, told in Maisy’s and Bea’s alternating perspectives, Moskowitz-Palma introduces a cast of mostly white campers with varied abilities and interests (e.g., having dyslexia, modeling professionally, and playing soccer) before ratcheting the tension. The Sunflowers are determined to win the camp’s top athletic prize; ever anxious Maisy, on the other hand, is nervous about everything related to the competition. All seems doomed until Bea and Maisy make a pact: Bea will get the Sunflowers to befriend Maisy, and Maisy will get her school pack to include Bea. In the process, Bea also confronts her parents’ divorce, and readers (and Bea) discover the reasons why Maisy’s really at camp and her seemingly perfect mother went away.
This solid mix of s’mores and girl empowerment is encouraging but never saccharine. (Fiction. 8-12)