You callin’ me an egg-head? BRAIN CAMP by Susan Kim

Kim, Susan, and Klavan, Laurence. Brain Camp. Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks. Square Fish/First Second. 151 pages, 2010. PLB $15.56, ISBN978-1-48985-625-8; Tr. $ 8.54, ISBN 978-1-25006-292-5

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes

Genre: Science Fiction (Graphic Novel)

Part of a series? No

Plot Summary:

Jenna and Lucas just don’t fit in — Jenna’s an underachiever with deeply disappointed doctor parents, and Lucas’s tough home life slows him down. When their parents are approached by a man from Camp Fielding — a camp that promises to turn anyone into an Einstein — each kid finds themselves unceremoniously shunted to camp. The campers are weird, transforming into zombielike nerds while mysterious stuff happens in the woods. It seems like the adults are out to get them, and Jenna and Lucas’s parents refuse to understand. Are Jenna and Lucas doomed to follow their fellow campers’ fates, or can they escape unscathed?

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This is gross-out horror at its finest. If vomit makes you squeamish, give this book a pass. Kids barf up feathers (and major spoiler in white to follow >>> the bodies of infant bird alien things???) There is also blood “on the page” in a super vivid scene, and a lot of the action is … just that. Horror movie action without a lot of plot-furthering substance. That said, it’s a great pick for your horror fans.

There is also a romance element with some themes better for older middle graders (see Goodreads reviews).

Grade Level: YA

Awards and Starred Reviews:




Catch-up Post: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Oh wow! I had heard great things about Raina Telgemeier, but I had not yet had a chance to read any of her books. I fixed that this August!

Smile is delightfully relatable. Having had braces, a retainer, spacers, headgear, braces again, and new retainers (which I still wear!), I was VERY familiar with an adolescence spent in the orthodontist’s chair. 🙂 Poor Raina, though; her story is a bit more frightening than mine!

Kids with orthodontics will agree with many of the miseries Telgemeier presents, and kids without will still get a fun, relatable story. Deftly woven in are also storylines about when kids outgrow friends, find new ones, and blossom into their own people.


  • Graphic Novel

Major Things:

  • Orthodontics
  • Growing up
  • Friendships

**Some blood on the page!