Middle schooler Maggie can’t wait to go to summer camp with her best friend and is devastated when her parents let her know, last minute, that they’re sending her to a fat camp instead. Camp Sylvania turns out not to be so bad, especially since Maggie immediately makes some great new friends, but what’s up with the suggested blood donations, the creepy counselor who only comes out at night, and the all-red “revolutionary wellness diet” the campers are being fed?
This book is a delight. The vampires will satisfy horror fans (though it is gentle enough to work for non-horror fans) and it’s funny and charming enough for adults and teens. The comparison of predatory wellness influencers to vampires is not only clever, but a great way to get kids thinking critically about social media messages. Julie Murphy deftly deals with the theme of weight, and the kids are inherently body-positive, even though their parents and the counselors have different ideas. Weight can be a difficult topic to address but the size of the kids and Maggie’s weight-stressed relationship with her mother are carried out with nuance and respect. Other than the vampires and their familiars, who really are horrible, the characters are relatable and likable; even the ghost of a camper has a sense of humor!
-Sarah, Reference and Childrens