When bad weather and a wrong turn accidentally send an art-loving 12-year-old girl to Camp Archimedes, a math camp, instead of her intended destination, Camp Vermeer, things get a bit weird.
Once fate brings Esther Lambert to a brainy camp where she feels like “an alien from the planet Creativity,” she finds herself unwittingly drawn in by compelling algebraic puzzles and logic challenges. Being the first to solve the inaugural brainteaser of the summer with an original solution gives her confidence. But then mysterious notes, camp history, and a spooky legend about the man who gave the land to the camp collide to lead her on a wacky hunt for what appears to be a serial murderer. Eventually her transition to newly minted math nerd is complete. Esther herself is solid and earnest, the math aspect is engaging, and the exuberant energy of the story is contagious. However, the pacing feels uneven, character development is limited, and it’s not always clear where and why the plotline goes where it does or what is at stake. The effort to encourage girls to transition from single-minded focus on the arts to also believing in their math abilities feels sincere if a bit heavy-handed. Esther is depicted as white on the cover, and diversity among secondary characters is indicated through naming convention and description.
A well-intentioned premise with a few potentially thought-provoking puzzles thrown in for good measure. (Mystery. 8-12)