Vera is a typical pre-teen girl: all she wants to fit in with her American friends. But she is just “the poor Russian kid” and different. Her parents are divorced, she cannot afford to go to summer camp and does not have the cool new toys. When she learns about a camp just for Russian kids, she thinks she will finally fit in. But the wilds of suburbia did not prepare her for the wilds of the woods. Based on the authors experiences, poetic license and changing some names to protect the guilty, Be Prepared is a new coming of age story in a basic graphic novel format.
The nice thing about the story Brosgol tells is it is relatable to anyone who falls into at least one of the categories Vera does (poor, shy, awkward, smart, different) but there is nothing new. The “cool girls” at home only go to the party because their parents make them, the “cool girls” at camp shun Vera as soon as she is no longer useful to them, the “horrible camp experiences” (if you have never used an outhouse for “number two” count yourself lucky).
Graphic novels get labeled “comic books” but not all of them are. There are some great stories attached to them and are just novels. With pictures. They can be a way to get kids to read as they think they are reading a comic. Some kids are “visual” and not “text” readers. Once you show them reading IS fun, then you can say, “You trusted me there, trust me with this.” In other words: Moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins and teachers DO NOT BE AFRAID OF GRAPHIC NOVELS. Give your child/family them. Sit down and enjoy them, too. This is not your grandfathers “comic book!” (Due in April)