Chiggers

It’s finally summer, and thirteen year old Abby is back at the sleepaway camp she’s loved attending for the last several years. Except this summer, things have started changing. There are new piercings, new boys, even new natural phenomena (including will o’ the wisps and the eponymous biting pests -- chiggers). Then there’s the new girl, Shasta, who no one can seem to stand except for Abby. As her summer at camp continues to go entirely differently (and a lot less smoothly) than she’d imagined it would, Abby has to realign her expectations, examine her own hang ups, and try to figure out her role in this familiar environment that’s suddenly not so familiar.

Aimed at readers ages 10 - 14, Chiggers, by Hope Larson fills an important role in the graphic novel genre -- realistic fiction for tween and teen girls, which are still comparatively few and far between in this medium. Chiggers does an admirable (and accurate) job of translating the sometimes confusing experience of growing up girl into a visual medium.

This is a great story for those who want to relive their summer camp experience, as well as those who simply appreciate a thoughtful, well-done graphic novel. Fans of Raina Telgemeier's Smile and Sisters will likely enjoy this book as well, and recognize some common themes -- particularly, being a girl on the edge of teenagedom. Chiggers may not have as much action and adventure as some readers might expect from a graphic novel, but it overflows with heart, charm, and style.

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