Star Scouts

illus. by Mike Lawrence. 192p. First Second. Mar. 2017. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781626722804.
Gr 4–6—Middle schooler Avani is the new girl in town, so her father signs her up for Flower Scouts to help her make friends. The girls in Flower Scouts talk about boy bands and, well, boys; Avani likes riding bulls and roughing around. Out of nowhere, Avani is abducted by Mabel, a young alien girl who is recruiting kids from other planets to join the Star Scouts, whose members explore the galaxy and the unknown. Avani is an immediate and enthusiastic recruit. She enjoys going on adventures with her new friends, and soon she and the others are taking part in a weeklong trip to Camp Andromeda. But Avani's strong will leads to a conflict with a rival troop, and, suddenly, her membership in Star Scouts is at stake. This is a gorgeous book, with lush imagery that brings to mind Craig Thompson's Space Dumplins. However, the plot is lacking, as the rivalry at Camp Andromeda follows a predictable us vs. them—narrative. The characters have heart aplenty, but their frequent use of toilet humor relegates the book to a younger audience. Avani herself is a difficult heroine for whom to root: the story sets up readers to dislike the girls with whom Avani clashes at Camp Andromeda, yet the protagonist delivers as many insults and nasty actions as she receives.
VERDICT An additional purchase for libraries looking for a visually appealing selection to fill out their graphic novel sections.

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