Absolute ­Zeros: Camp Launchpad

Little, Brown Ink. (Absolute Zeros: Bk. 1). Mar. 2024. 224p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780316048736.
Gr 5-8–Camp Launchpad, once cutting-edge, is now a run-down tween space camp, especially compared to the well-funded competitor camps in Florida. Despite Fred, the camp director, making efforts to maintain a positive experience for young science nerds, Camp Launchpad is on the brink of closing down at the end of the season. Randomly selected as podmates—Val, the eager daughter of an astronaut; Pete, the timid, observant scholarship kid; and Mark, the son of the Vice President of the United States—don’t exactly hit it off right away. Fred places a bet on the Space Race, a competition among all of the space camps, that will either fund his camp or shut it down. The race gives the podmates a chance to get to know one another and build a connection. Through strong characterization, this graphic novel demonstrates the power of friendship amid the pressure to succeed. The authors offer a diverse range of characters, providing readers with relatable experiences and opportunities to connect with characters. Further, this text highlights the positivity of mentorships, pairing each camper in the pod with an adult mentor. Gomez’s cartoon-style illustrations offer great depth to the mood and tone of each scene. Panels are varied from spread to spread, offering variation and flow that match the pace of the plot.
VERDICT This quirky graphic novel, with its unique characters and space-themed adventures, will interest young readers and belongs on all library and classroom shelves.

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