cover image Camp Launchpad (Absolute Zeros #1)

Camp Launchpad (Absolute Zeros #1)

Greg Smith and Michael Tanner, illus. by Gabrielle Gomez. Little, Brown Ink, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-316-04873-6

Previous collaborators Smith and Tanner (the Junior Braves of the Apocalypse series) craft an inspiring journey that chronicles the travails of an unconventional summer camp experience. As seasonal heat radiates in swampy Florida, the stakes couldn’t be higher for the future of the once-bustling space program Camp Launchpad, which is in dire straits and facing fierce competition from a flashier, hipper rival camp. Aspiring campers Val, Mark, and Pete might be just what the camp needs to get back on the up-and-up. The trio, who are portrayed with varying skin tones, are united by their shared dream of cruising among the stars; Val wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become an astronaut, Mark yearns to live up to his U.S. vice president father’s high expectations, and Pete merely wants to enjoy the camp as much as possible, grateful to be attending despite his family’s low income. Heartwarming visuals by Gomez skillfully complement the thrilling narrative, a celebration of the unwavering spirit of youthful dreamers and a pleasant escape in which readers are encouraged to pursue their own ambitions, never give up on their goals, and to face challenges head-on. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)