NATALIE'S SECRET

Melissa J. Morgan, Author . Grosset & Dunlap $4.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-448-43737-8

Launching the Camp Confidential series, this lukewarm tale centers on an 11-year-old New Yorker whose mother sends her to Camp Lakeview for eight weeks. Convinced she is "allergic to nature," Natalie is anything but thrilled about experiencing the great outdoors and eating camp food rather than sushi. But her attitude improves after she bonds with an artsy, sensitive bunkmate and takes a shine to a "boy-person with denim blue eyes" who shares her love of The Simpsons ("We're perfect for each other! ' she thinks). Given the obvious clues, readers will likely guess Natalie's "secret": her father is a famous film actor, a fact she has hidden from her fellow campers so that they could get to know her on her terms. Alas, all is revealed when the superstar and his girlfriend roll into camp in a limo for a surprise visit. Natalie's consternation about her friends' reactions verges on the melodramatic: "Natalie's head was spinning. The scene felt almost completely surreal. Her friends were being polite but awkward, and Chelsea was suddenly her bestest best friend in the world? This was so not what she wanted! This was why she hadn't wanted to let people know who her father was!" Despite Morgan's typecasting (the athlete, the comedienne, the practical joker, the manipulative bully), these young characters—Natalie included—are curiously bland, offering readers little incentive to reach for this month's second camp caper, Jenna's Dilemma (0-448-43738-4 ). Ages 9-12. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/18/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Library Binding - 141 pages - 978-1-59961-153-2
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