cover image Letters from Camp

Letters from Camp

Kate Klise. HarperCollins Publishers, $15.99 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97539-6

A bit less satisfying than the Klises' Regarding the Fountain, this summer camp mystery employs the same roundabout storytelling style, unfolding its plot through an avalanche of letters, memos, menus, ledgers and legal documents. The premise is clever: Camp Happy Harmony, run by the six Harmony Family Singers, accepts siblings who constantly fight and turns them into happy brother-sister pairs. With an abundance of characters to keep straight, the author cooks up no-holds-barred caricatures and spoofs. Thus campers Barbie Q. and Brisket Roast, two bickering Texans who ""fight like starving dogs over a T-bone,"" are joined by the snooty Brits Mimi and Ivan Gems and the very average Charlotte and Charlie Lee. It soon becomes apparent that the Harmony Singers are anything but a happy family, and the children set out to discover their not-so-nice secrets. The energetic string of documents that tell the story appear here on overactive spreads, seemingly designed to cater to the MTV generation's appetite for constant visual stimulation. On the whole this busy send-up offers easy entertainment: the humor is obvious but kid-friendly, the mystery simple yet fun to solve. Ages 8-12. (June)