Review: Welcome to camp fill-in-the-blank
For readers 8 – 12.
When Page agrees to go to PEI to babysit her cousins for the summer, she is apprehensive. Crusoe and Danger are notoriously high-spirited and have made it known that they don’t want a babysitter. What they really want is to go to summer camp. So Page decides to create their own personal summer camp for them, right in their own backyard. Thus Camp Fill-in-the-Blank is born. Page comes up with a different theme for each week, activities to capture the imagination of the boys (and their lively neighbour Moxie) and tries to manage the inevitable predicaments that arise. By the summer’s end, she realizes that she has made new friends, surprised herself and her family with her resourcefulness and creativity and even become somewhat of a local celebrity.
PEI native Hope Dalvay’s debut novel is a charming, light-hearted romp that is filled with likeable characters and summer fun. The boisterous brothers, along with super-athletic and ready-for-any-adventure Moxie, are believably rendered and endearing, and while Page clearly has her hands full entertaining them, it is heartwarming to see how she ultimately succeeds in winning them over. Page herself is a sympathetic protagonist with her own insecurities. Although the dialogue occasionally feels forced and/or unlikely for a fourteen year old, she nevertheless comes across as a typical teen who is determined to do her best to meet the challenge that she has been set. The PEI setting works well for the story, and readers will enjoy the time they spend in the company of Page and her quirky family.