cover image Be Prepared

Be Prepared

Vera Brosgol. First Second, $12.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-62672-445-7

Unlike her debut, Anya's Ghost, Eisner-winner Brosgol's second graphic work is a summer camp memoir set in the real world. Without fantasy elements to distract, execution is crucial, and Brosgol delivers. Vera, Brosgol's nine-year-old self, is a wide-eyed Russian immigrant kid desperate to fit in with her suburban classmates. They all go to camp every summer, and when she finds out about a Russian Orthodox camp that her family's church will help pay for, she talks her mother into letting her go. It doesn't take her long to realize that she's wished for the wrong thing. Mean girls, stinking outhouses, and baffling camp traditions make her first weeks miserable. Triumphs come, but not before she undergoes moments of humiliation that are both funny and cringeworthy ("Is that candy?" Vera asks her older tentmates about a pack of maxi-pads). The dialogue rings true, the pace is seamless, and the panel artwork, in woodsy browns and greens, conveys feelings with clean, assured lines. By turns sardonic, adorable, and noble, Vera is a beguiling hero who learns how to recognize who's really on her side. Ages 10%E2%80%9314. Agent: Judy Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Apr.)