Long Distance

S. & S. Aug. 2021. 320p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781534455665; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781534455658.
Gr 4-7–When one of Vega’s dads gets a new job in Seattle, they have to move—which means leaving Vega’s home and best friend. To help her adjust, Vega’s dads enroll her in Camp Very Best Friend, described as the perfect place for introverted Seattle area children to meet other kids. Vega and campers Qwerty, Isaac, and Gemma start to notice strange things about the camp. Even though they’re in the woods, there are no animals anywhere, and because of all the clouds, they never see the sky. The counselors seem robotic and keep pushing one camper, George, to be the kids’ new friend. Suspicious, Vega and her friends try to figure out what’s going on, and they uncover a huge secret. This tale of friendship and loneliness reflects many middle schoolers’ social anxiety. The cartoon art is colorful and appealing, and expressive faces and background details add depth to the characters. Information about the kids’ interest in astronomy, geology, and electronics is a plus. Depictions of Pike Place Market, the public library, and other Seattle landmarks bring the story to life. Vega and her dads are Latinx, Isaac and Gemma are brown-skinned; Qwerty is Asian American, and George is white.
VERDICT Middle schoolers will enjoy this light-handed guide to navigating friendship.

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