cover image Unhappy Camper

Unhappy Camper

Lily Lamotte, illus. by Ann Xu. HarperAlley, $24.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-06-297390-0; $15.99 paper ISBN 978-0-06-297389-4

Collaborators Lamotte and Xu (Measuring Up) reteam to deliver a bighearted graphic novel featuring estranged Taiwanese American sisters. Reserved Michelle would rather hang out with her white friends from choir than be more like her self-assured older sister Claire, whom enjoys exploring her heritage at a yearly Taiwanese summer camp just outside of the siblings’ Seattle-area hometown. This year, their parents conspire to send the girls to the three-week-long camp together, and while both object to the obvious diplomacy effort, their attendance is deemed non-negotiable. After acing an uncomfortable ropes course and helping a scared camper cross the finish line, Michelle receives some much-missed sisterly love from Claire, which inspires Michelle to embrace camp, and her background, more. She even realizes how bestie Jess often ridicules her Taiwanese heritage, and once the siblings return home, Michelle has the opportunity to demonstrate how much camp has restored her confidence in herself, her bond with her sister, and her culture. Xu’s clean, two-dimensional linework complements Lamotte’s winsome story showcasing the diversity of Taiwanese art (opera, glove puppets, folk songs, calligraphy) and toothsome culinary treats like han tsî muê (sweet potato porridge) and shaved ice with grass jelly in this feast for the stomach and the spirit. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)