by Julie Sternberg
Try something new along with Eleanor – it’s not always easy or fun. In fact life can be pretty disappointing at times, but you get through it.
Eleanor is off to summer camp. Grandma Sadie has given it to her as a present. She is going to the same camp her mom went to and loved. Eleanor was excited at first. Her friend, Katie, had gone to a summer camp the year before. She’d had a blast riding horses, jumping on the floating trampoline, diving, eating M&M’s… it seemed great. Grandma Sadie even sent Eleanor a picture of her mom standing in front of a cabin with a fluffy soft sleeping bag rolled in her arms. It was clear she was happy, and Eleanor thought she would be too. Camp Wallumwahpuck would be an adventure.
While Eleanor gets a little nervous – who wouldn’t. She wonders what it will be like to be so far from home. She wonders what it will be like to miss her parents too much. The next day when they drive to the pick up spot Eleanor watches as the seasoned campers meet each other and find out if they are bunking together. They are happy and hugging while Eleanor is alone. First Eleanor finds out she is in cabin “Gypsy Moth.” Gypsy Moth? Aren’t they ugly? Next she meets very tall, very thin Joplin. She’d been to camp before so that was helpful, but she has an odd way about her.
“Do you eat chocolate?”
“Sure,” I said.
I waited for her to offer me some.
Because why else would she have asked?
But instead she said,
A girl in my cabin last year said it gave her a rash.
I never liked her.”
“Oh,” I said.
We were quiet for a second.
I wondered what the girl’s rash looked like.
Each beginning after that starts badly – falling over a tree root while on the way to the cabin and scraping her hands and knees, having to make up a top bunk, being in a cabin with five other girls who are already friends, not passing the swimming test and discovering that the only thing she likes at the dining hall is salad (minus the tomatoes) and rolls (two’s the limit). Every new thing is not quite what Eleanor expects even the fruit punch has a disgusting name that makes it undrinkable. Bug Juice? Who’d want to drink that? All Eleanor wants it have one of her dad’s juicy burgers with ketchup, but nothing at Camp Wallumwahpuck is like that.
Everything is like Bug Juice on a burger and Eleanor just wishes to go home. She sticks it out and you’ll be glad she did. She makes it all way until pick up day when she can show her parents all the places she has been and the things she has done. There’s not a reader who won’t related to Eleanor’s struggles and disappointments. Her concerns and fears are eloquently real – she puts words to thing most of us only think. Her accomplishments from large to small will be celebrated and cheered.
C.S. Lewis said, “We read to find ourselves.” Like Bug Juice on a Burger is a great example of that. Eleanor is a wonderful book friend to have. This is a perfect companion to Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie. I hope to read more about Eleanor soon.