cover image Camp Scare

Camp Scare

Delilah S. Dawson. Delacorte, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-5933-7326-2

Dawson (Mine) conjures campfire urban legends in a page-turning novel of summer camp cruelty. After an agonizing cyberbullying experience at school, 12-year-old poet and “teacher’s pet” Parker Nelson receives a scholarship to Camp Care, a Georgia summer camp committed to campers’ emotional well-being. There, she hopes to “reinvent herself... as a new, improved, unbullyable” Parker. But one of the mean girls from Parker’s school also attends, and she spreads rumors that leave Parker isolated from the other campers, save for a bond with loner Jenny McAllister, with whom she exchanges friendship bracelets. The counselors take the bullies’ side, but when Parker’s cabinmates begin suffering violent accidents, she dredges up secrets from the camp’s dark history, wondering if camp legend “Gory Tori” might have taken matters into her own ghostly hands. Dedicating the novel to “every kid who’s ever been told... just be yourself and everyone will like you,” Dawson intersperses haunted camp tropes with realistic depictions of forcibly cheerful adults naively attempting to reassure bullied youth. Third-person narration follows Parker’s internal dialogue, balancing emotional turmoil with ominous, sometimes gory details, and constantly ratcheting up suspense for a fast, immersive ride. Characters cue as white. Ages 10–up. Agent: Stacia Decker, Dunow Carlson & Lerner. (Aug.)