Scholastic/Graphix. Jan. 2023. 240p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781338356311.
Gr 7 Up–Krosoczka’s follow-up to Hey, Kiddo tenderly depicts his formative experiences in 1994 as a 16-year-old camp counselor at a summer camp for children with severe illnesses, who attend with their families. He is closest to a young white child, Eric, who has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and Diego, a younger teen with brown skin who is losing cognitive and motor skills because of a brain tumor. Krosoczka brings empathy and personal attention to every camper and family member he can, in hopes that they enjoy their limited time away from hospitals and treatments. The color scheme, with yellows and auburns shining out from gray and smudged backgrounds, reflects everyone’s effort to find joy in trying circumstances. Counselors’ dialogue, whether hanging out, planning activities, or discussing death and faith, makes it easy to feel attached to them all as they mature and reflect on what the camp means to them. Each of the adult counselors brings a unique perspective to the camp’s work, with their personalities more fully revealed by summer’s end. Chapter openers include photos, drawings, and newspaper clippings from Krosoczka’s time at camp, and an afterword provides context about differences between the contents of the book and what really happened. The teen group sings Billy Joel’s “Lullabye” as part of the end-of-camp Farewell Show, in a moment that will linger with readers long after the book’s ending.
VERDICT An admirable look back at a life turned toward service, optimism, and love.

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