Be Prepared
A gripping and hilarious middle-grade summer camp memoir from the author of Anya's Ghost.All Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there's one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.Vera is sure she's found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the "cool girl" drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Cece Bell, and Victoria Jamieson, Vera Brosgol's Be Prepared is a funny and relatable middle-grade graphic novel about navigating your own culture, struggling to belong, and the value of true friendship.

Be Prepared Details

TitleBe Prepared
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 24th, 2018
PublisherFirst Second
ISBN-139781626724440
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Childrens, Middle Grade, Comics, Autobiography, Memoir

Be Prepared Review

  • Lola
    January 1, 1970
    Some stories… don't need to be told.First of all, although this is marketed as a graphic ‘‘memoir,’’ the author admits in her note that a lot of the some stuff in this book is made up, so… not true. Why would you even write a memoir if you’re not going to be completely honest or fully aware of the memories you’re featuring? The author says she simply couldn’t remember all that well her experience at camp when she was young. In that case, write about something that you DO know. Don’t exaggerate.M Some stories… don't need to be told.First of all, although this is marketed as a graphic ‘‘memoir,’’ the author admits in her note that a lot of the some stuff in this book is made up, so… not true. Why would you even write a memoir if you’re not going to be completely honest or fully aware of the memories you’re featuring? The author says she simply couldn’t remember all that well her experience at camp when she was young. In that case, write about something that you DO know. Don’t exaggerate.My heart and I couldn’t connect and couldn’t sympathize. Vera is begging her mom to send her to a Russian camp, since she feels it’s the only place where she’s going to feel comfortable, seeing that she doesn’t fit in with the American girls. This ‘‘lack of connection’’ to American culture and inability to ‘‘fit in’’ is only addressed at the beginning of the tale and… never again. So anyway, Vera and her brother go to camp. For Vera, it’s an awful experience from the start: there are mean girls, disgusting toilets, mean boys, depressing activities (or that’s how Vera makes them look) and religious and patriotic stuff as well that underwhelm her. This is supposedly a ‘‘hilarious’’ story. Yeah, right. I certainly expected it to contain humour and entertain me but, instead, it made me feel… bad. Not bad for Vera, but bad inside at all the cruelty and jealousy and lying in the book. I don’t even want to send my fictional or future children to camp based on what I just read. Also, I went to day camp ten years ago, and while I understand that it’s not the same, so much of the content here seems out of proportion. Vera is a girl who is easily influenced by her peers, so when the ‘‘cool girls’’ make fun of people… so does she. And when the cool girls try to take advantage of her… she lets them. I mean, these things happen in real life, too, but if they’re not explored, in the sense that if the author doesn’t make it clear that this is the wrong situation to be in and the wrong reaction to it, there isn’t much to learn from it. Vera’s camp counsellor helps her figure one or two things out, but it’s as though the author is expecting the reader to realize on their own what is accepted between ‘‘friends,’’ and what isn’t. And once again, nothing, NOTHING, about this book is hilarious. Vera’s art is cute, of course, no surprise there. But boy oh boy do I not agree with the way the author developed this story, especially since it ends on a cliffhanger. I need to say this, so perhaps cover your eyes: That was a stupid decision on the author's part. Who ends a graphic ‘‘memoir’’ on a cliffhanger? I’m assuming there will be a ‘‘sequel’’ to this partly made up memoir? That I will not read?To go back to how judgemental Vera is, she says things like, ‘‘It felt strangely good to see someone else suffer a little,’’ and, ‘‘Geez. He was embarrassing to watch. Crying in front of everyone,’’ and it’s not like she feels bad about saying those things. Can’t you have a little more compassion, especially since you know what it’s like for people to judge you relentlessly?I don’t recommend this book, and I certainly don’t recommend it to kids. They need to be aware that there is ugliness in the world, but they must also learn how to deal with it, and this book is no teaching tool. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’
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  • emma
    January 1, 1970
    IF VERA BROSGOL DOESN'T HAVE THE CUTESTBEST ART STYLE IN THE WORLD, I SURE DO NOT KNOW WHO DOES.that's pretty much the standout part of this book in either direction. it's a classic indoors-kid-goes-to-camp-and-hates-it-and-everything-is-terrible-but-then-she-likes-it-because-she-makes-a-friend-just-in-time-to-leave story. which, like, not my favorite trope? presumably no one's favorite trope? just a lot of gross toilets and bugs and outdoor shenanigans.BUT. BUTBUTBUT! the art, you guys. the arr IF VERA BROSGOL DOESN'T HAVE THE CUTESTBEST ART STYLE IN THE WORLD, I SURE DO NOT KNOW WHO DOES.that's pretty much the standout part of this book in either direction. it's a classic indoors-kid-goes-to-camp-and-hates-it-and-everything-is-terrible-but-then-she-likes-it-because-she-makes-a-friend-just-in-time-to-leave story. which, like, not my favorite trope? presumably no one's favorite trope? just a lot of gross toilets and bugs and outdoor shenanigans.BUT. BUTBUTBUT! the art, you guys. the arrrrrrttttttt.i probably didn't like it as much as Anya's Ghost (the other graphic novel i've read by Brosgol) but the art seems like it's somehow improved. which seems impossible. but god it's so cute and good i looooove it.bottom line: who doesn't love a quick graphic novel with great art!!!
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  • Nat
    January 1, 1970
    Summer Camp, Russian Culture, and BelongingHaving adored Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, I was keen on checking out her spin with this gripping and hilarious middle-grade summer camp memoir.All Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there's one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.I' Summer Camp, Russian Culture, and BelongingHaving adored Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, I was keen on checking out her spin with this gripping and hilarious middle-grade summer camp memoir.All Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there's one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.I'm gonna jump right into discussing the book by highlighting the dreaded sleepover scene that still gives me chills... and it's been over a decade for me. All the more painful to relive it through Vera's young eyes. She's trying her hardest to assimilate as smoothly as possible by pulling together a sleepover (by replicating her friend's version), but then her mother gives her Russian twist on it.As a child of Russian Jews (like I mention in my review for Natasha and Other Stories), I know all too well that you're donzo if your third-grade classmates see those Russian letters on the cake...It's these intimate moments of struggling to belong and navigating your own culture that stood out to most when I read Anya’s Ghost back in 2016. So I was glad to see it delve deeper with  Be Prepared . I mean, the painful courage it took to include the sleepover must've been tremendous.Moving along to Vera finding out about a Russian summer camp "build around fostering Russian community" and deciding to join in the hopes of finding people that'll get her. But she's not quite prepared for the conditions set in the middle of nowhere.You pretty much knew what to expect with this introducing letter:"Dear mom, could you pick me up as soon as you get this? PLEASE! I'm desperate"What follows is a journey of self-acceptance and resilience, finding friendship within the right people, and more and more summer hardships to overcome. I read it in a heartbeat.All in all, I more than keen on reading more of Vera Brosgol's graphic memoirs, especially with that ending we got from Be Prepared !ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.Expected publication: April 24th, 2018 Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Be Prepared, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission! Support creators you love. Buy a Coffee for nat (bookspoils) with Ko-fi.com/bookspoils This review and more can be found on my blog.
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  • Calista
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. Russian summer camp is intense. The bathrooms are pretty horrible as well, even for a summer camp. Vera is using real life experiences from her life to make this story. It seems that there really is a Russian summer camp where you are expected to speak Russian. This is for people with a Russian background. Vera has a group of friends and they all talk about going to summer camp all the time. It sounds like so much fun. Vera can't afford to go and she is home alone all summer long. She finds Wow. Russian summer camp is intense. The bathrooms are pretty horrible as well, even for a summer camp. Vera is using real life experiences from her life to make this story. It seems that there really is a Russian summer camp where you are expected to speak Russian. This is for people with a Russian background. Vera has a group of friends and they all talk about going to summer camp all the time. It sounds like so much fun. Vera can't afford to go and she is home alone all summer long. She finds a Russian camp that her church will scholarship her and she is excited to go. She gets there and quickly realizes it's not as much fun as she thought. She is rooming with girls way older than her and they are kinda cruel to her. It's a tough summer of feeling very alone. It is a harsh camp too. There is no running water. They bath in the lake and they are training all day long.I do enjoy the artwork here and the story of Vera is great. She does a lot of growing up over the summer. It's tough feeling lonely and out of place around all those people.I think my niece might enjoy this. She is reading 'Smile' at the moment and this would be good for the summer.
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  • Whitney Atkinson
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this! This will be a short review just because the rating speaks for itself. I have nothing particularly outstanding to say about it, but there's also nothing terrible about it. It was entertaining, but it was just okay. Maybe get it from the library instead of buying it
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  • David Schaafsma
    January 1, 1970
    Vera Brosgol created Anya's Ghost, which I liked very much, so I looked forward to this tale, since summer camp was important to my early life, and is important to some present members of this house now, including one girl. I expect they may really like this story, which is very much based on Brosgol's largely miserable experiences at camp while growing up. She also explains in an afterword that in the process of creating this graphic novel that she consulted her sisters about what camp had been Vera Brosgol created Anya's Ghost, which I liked very much, so I looked forward to this tale, since summer camp was important to my early life, and is important to some present members of this house now, including one girl. I expect they may really like this story, which is very much based on Brosgol's largely miserable experiences at camp while growing up. She also explains in an afterword that in the process of creating this graphic novel that she consulted her sisters about what camp had been like for them and folded some of their stories into this, making it more fictional.Vera and her brother go to Russian camp, where they do things that kids do at camp, but in the context of a cultural heritage experience, speaking the language and so on. She's young for her group, she has tent-mates that isolate her, she has no friends. But she draws and for a time she is allowed to hang with the older, cool girls. . . until she makes some mistakes that get her isolated again. But here's hope! She eventually makes one friend that makes it all (kinda) worthwhile.I liked it just fine. The cartooning is great. The expected level for readers might be from 3rd to 7th grade. The afterword includes an actual humorously miserable letter Brosgol wrote to her mother from camp. She says he likes camping now. I guess if you hated camp you could commiserate with Brosgol here. Some of it is funny, but most of it is a little sad, I thought. A story for loners who might not always be loners, hopefully.
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  • Sam Quixote
    January 1, 1970
    Be prepared - for a middling childhood memoir comic! Vera Brosgol’s latest book is about her going to a Russian summer camp as a kid and having a bit of a tough time of it. But it’s not all bad and yadda yadda yadda, learning important lessons, etc. In her afterword she talks about condensing two summers of camp into one to make the narrative more exciting, which is fine, but she also makes some stuff up, which was a bit iffy. The bullied nerd gets to win a bit at the end, Vera stumbles across a Be prepared - for a middling childhood memoir comic! Vera Brosgol’s latest book is about her going to a Russian summer camp as a kid and having a bit of a tough time of it. But it’s not all bad and yadda yadda yadda, learning important lessons, etc. In her afterword she talks about condensing two summers of camp into one to make the narrative more exciting, which is fine, but she also makes some stuff up, which was a bit iffy. The bullied nerd gets to win a bit at the end, Vera stumbles across a moose and has a spiritual moment, she happens to find the missing guinea pig and becomes besties with its owner, she captures the flag at the end; these story beats are too pat and smack of contrivance, watering down the memoir aspect of the book. Vera Brosgol knows how to cartoon like the devil though and the book is wonderfully drawn. Ultimately Be Prepared just wasn’t that memorable or interesting a story though I expect it’d probably be more meaningful for teen girls going through similar growing pains. If you’ve not read it, I’d highly recommend Brosgol’s previous book, Anya’s Ghost, instead.
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  • Manybooks
    January 1, 1970
    While I cannot say that I have all that much enjoyed Vera Brosgol's illustrations (as I guess that the mostly green, white and black colours she is using are just not my aesthetic thing so to speak), the general plot lines of Be Prepared have been both entertaining and also rather sadly and frustratingly, uncomfortably nostalgic in a cringeworthy (and "I do not really want to remember" kind of way). For while I thankfully never did experience the kind of mostly horrible summer camps of Vera Bros While I cannot say that I have all that much enjoyed Vera Brosgol's illustrations (as I guess that the mostly green, white and black colours she is using are just not my aesthetic thing so to speak), the general plot lines of Be Prepared have been both entertaining and also rather sadly and frustratingly, uncomfortably nostalgic in a cringeworthy (and "I do not really want to remember" kind of way). For while I thankfully never did experience the kind of mostly horrible summer camps of Vera Brosgol's teenaged years (and according to her author's note, she has consolidated two separate summer camp experiences in Be Prepared), her feelings of being the odd person out, of being at best only mildly tolerated and often actually being not only ignored but at times rather bullied sure do ring more than enough reminiscing alarm bells for me. And while much of Be Prepared does indeed seem a bit overly exaggerated at times, for the most part, the episodes depicted and described are what I would call an expanded type of reality, maybe with a trifle too much thrown in for shock and awe value, but let us be honest here, the thematics and contents of Be Prepared, even if containing too much of the proverbial good thing at times are indeed and sadly often part and parcel of how especially teenaged girls tend to act and react to one another (although quite frankly, I for one could have done without the visual of the soiled with blood undergarment on the flagpole, as I do think that this could have and should have been rendered and even in a graphic novel without such an overt and perhaps even sans any kind of illustration, as it really did and does disgust me and even kind of give me the creeps). All in all though, I have indeed for the most part found Be Prepared both relatable and engaging enough (especially when Vera recounts how it feels good when others are being singled out, how she is honest about her feelings that this has taken some of the pressure off of her, as indeed, when I was being bullied at school, I did even if more than contritely and guilty silently cheer a bit when the arch-bullies tormenting me suddenly decided to choose another victim, both leaving me alone for a time and granting me some necessary breathing space). However, as I have (as mentioned above) not really found the illustrations and especially their colour schemes all that visually enchanting and stimulating and do also have a few issues with parts of the presented narrative, with Vera Brosgol's themes, contents and words, two and a half stars is what from a personal reading pleasure point of departure Be Prepared represents for me, but rounded up to a rather grudging three stars, as I have indeed still somewhat enjoyed in a painful and frustrating manner reading about and viewing a girl who is in many ways my mirror teenaged image, except that I certainly was not lucky enough to have the artistic talents of Vera and was actually in many ways even more awkward than her as a child and young teenager, in some ways closer to the poor boy who keeps literally stepping in it and is bullied by the whole camp and seemingly simply because head honcho Alexei does and obviously demands imitation (or at least that is how this sure seems to and for me).
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  • Julie Ehlers
    January 1, 1970
    Be Prepared is the second graphic novel I've read by Brosgol (the first was Anya's Ghost), and I liked this one much better. Based on the author's own experiences, this is an absorbing story of a girl who has trouble fitting in and wants nothing more than to go to summer camp, but when she does go it doesn't turn out anything like she was hoping. I thought this might be humorous or even scary, but instead it's mostly sad—although there's definitely a lot of humor mixed in, the experiences Vera h Be Prepared is the second graphic novel I've read by Brosgol (the first was Anya's Ghost), and I liked this one much better. Based on the author's own experiences, this is an absorbing story of a girl who has trouble fitting in and wants nothing more than to go to summer camp, but when she does go it doesn't turn out anything like she was hoping. I thought this might be humorous or even scary, but instead it's mostly sad—although there's definitely a lot of humor mixed in, the experiences Vera has are pretty upsetting. (view spoiler)[(Don't worry, though—it all turns out OK in the end.) (hide spoiler)]Be Prepared moves quickly and the art is beautiful, and I think a lot of kids will relate to this book and enjoy it. I bought it for my niece, a hater of Girl Scout camp who will be the same age as the protagonist when her birthday rolls around, but now I think some of it might be a bit too adult for her, so I'm going to let her mother make the call about whether to give it to her now or hold it for a while. But I do recommend this for kids and adults who like YA lit, summer camp stories, or well-done graphic novels.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Wonderful! Think Shannon Hale's REAL FRIENDS, but set at summer camp! I love Brosgol's art (she did one of my top books from last year: LEAVE ME ALONE!), and the true(ish) story of her trying to fit in and make friends, at home and at camp, was funny and heartbreaking in turns. I can't wait to see what she doesn't next! PS: I burned through this minutes after picking it up from the library, and then handed it to my 9yo daughter, who is absolutely riveted as well. She's a big fan of Raina Telgeme Wonderful! Think Shannon Hale's REAL FRIENDS, but set at summer camp! I love Brosgol's art (she did one of my top books from last year: LEAVE ME ALONE!), and the true(ish) story of her trying to fit in and make friends, at home and at camp, was funny and heartbreaking in turns. I can't wait to see what she doesn't next! PS: I burned through this minutes after picking it up from the library, and then handed it to my 9yo daughter, who is absolutely riveted as well. She's a big fan of Raina Telgemeier and Cece Bell's El Deafo. I fully expect to be asked to buy her a copy of her own today.
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  • Erica
    January 1, 1970
    FYI: This story is not about a power-hungry, Machiavellian uncle who hangs out with hyenas.It's an autobiographical graphic novel about nine-year-old Vera's experiences at a Russian summer camp. Not a summer camp in Russia because those were outlawed last century but, rather, a camp that promotes Russian history and culture that would otherwise be lost to children of Russian ancestry.Pretty much Girl or Boy Scouts but for Russian kids.She peer-pressured herself into going and then had a miserabl FYI: This story is not about a power-hungry, Machiavellian uncle who hangs out with hyenas.It's an autobiographical graphic novel about nine-year-old Vera's experiences at a Russian summer camp. Not a summer camp in Russia because those were outlawed last century but, rather, a camp that promotes Russian history and culture that would otherwise be lost to children of Russian ancestry.Pretty much Girl or Boy Scouts but for Russian kids.She peer-pressured herself into going and then had a miserable time.Child-Vera is somewhat annoying, probably one of those kids who flutters on the fringes of the middle-of-the-road group of children, the ones who aren't popular, aren't sporty, aren't in any way exceptional but also aren't considered weird, gross, or other in any noticeable way.Yet, as exasperated as I felt with her, I also felt for her. She just wants friends, just wants to fit in, just wants to be accepted but her social circumstances plus her general awkwardness keeps her from achieving her goals.She's relatable and believable.I'm always intrigued by summer camp stories because I never went but my BFF had to go to church camp every year and the two weeks she was gone were always the most miserable in my life. I couldn't go with because her church was pretty much a cult and they didn't let outsiders tag along which seems weird in retrospect because isn't that how you get new followers? Not if you're a cult, it's not!Her stories, plus movies and books inform my understanding of what life was like in summer camp and this graphic novel offers nothing new but also supports everything I've already learned.Also, I totally would have been a Vera, the kid leaving out food for chipmunks and waiting to poop until I found a more comfortable bathroom.
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  • Jay G
    January 1, 1970
    Want to see more from me? Check out my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this in exchange for my honest review! Everyone Vera knows gets to go away to summer camp every year. All Vera wants is to be like the other kids in her neighbourhood. Then, one summer, her mother agrees to send her to ORRA, a Russian summer camp for children just like her! Upon arriving, Vera quickly realizes that she is not going to enjoy her time Want to see more from me? Check out my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this in exchange for my honest review! Everyone Vera knows gets to go away to summer camp every year. All Vera wants is to be like the other kids in her neighbourhood. Then, one summer, her mother agrees to send her to ORRA, a Russian summer camp for children just like her! Upon arriving, Vera quickly realizes that she is not going to enjoy her time at camp, the older girls are mean to her and she is extremely homesick. This was super cute! It was nice to see Vera's character development as the story went on. It was fun to see her trying to make friends and learning more about herself as the story progressed. I think this will be great for young readers who are also trying to fit into their own friend groups! I also really enjoyed how this is based off of the author's experience, I love how she incorporated letters that she wrote her own mother.Overall, a quick and fun little graphic memoir!
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    When I was a child, I lived in a well-to-do neighborhood, and had well-to-do neighbors, and classmates. This was in the days when rich people still sent their kids to public schools. They were the kids, that in high school had their own cards, and went on ski trips, and to Summer camp every year.While, I, like Vera in this story, had to make to with what we had, and couldn’t afford to do any of the things that my friends were doing. Certainly not Summer camp. And Vera has the added problem of be When I was a child, I lived in a well-to-do neighborhood, and had well-to-do neighbors, and classmates. This was in the days when rich people still sent their kids to public schools. They were the kids, that in high school had their own cards, and went on ski trips, and to Summer camp every year.While, I, like Vera in this story, had to make to with what we had, and couldn’t afford to do any of the things that my friends were doing. Certainly not Summer camp. And Vera has the added problem of being diaspora Russian, having come over to the States when she was five. And when she invites her friends over, the birthday cake is in Russian, the soda is made from rye bread, and the pizza isn’t stuffed. So, when she finds out that there is a Summer camp for Russian diaspora, and that the church will help pay for it, she jumps at the chance. She is thinking that finally this will be a place that she fits in.And of course, it wouldn’t be a story, if it worked out like that from the start.This is such a great story, both for kids that don’t fit in, and also for kids that have had to learn to live in a new country, and don’t fit in even with their fellow refugees. The kids are very real, and the story feels the way things do go in life. The author, Vera, says that this is semi-autobiographical, a blending of memories, of people, and situations. Of bad guys who she finally gets to be punished, and good people, and the whole experience.Wonderful, quick, deeply heartfelt read. Most enjoyable. The only short failing I have with it is the Russian isn’t always translated. I would have liked that. Minor quibble.
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  • Kelli
    January 1, 1970
    I can’t say enough about the illustrations and how fantastic they were. The story was a bit all over the place and could have been condensed and slightly more cohesive, but I enjoyed the bits of Russian, the icons, and the descriptions of the church. The letters at the beginning and end were almost better than the book! 3 stars
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  • Kristin
    January 1, 1970
    I like Brosgol's art very much but this book is an oddity where the character is just too young for teens to be very interested in and the story is just too old for kids the same age as the character.
  • Dov Zeller
    January 1, 1970
    Things I like about this book:expressiveness of the art, style of the artThings I struggled with in this book:everythingSomehow the narrative just doesn't come together in a way that I could make sense of. It was chaotic, distractingly episodic, worrisome, strange. Vera goes through all this horrible stuff, and it's painful to witness, but I don't really feel like there's a reason I am going through it with her. Because of the expressive art, I feel happy when she's happy, and worried when she's Things I like about this book:expressiveness of the art, style of the artThings I struggled with in this book:everythingSomehow the narrative just doesn't come together in a way that I could make sense of. It was chaotic, distractingly episodic, worrisome, strange. Vera goes through all this horrible stuff, and it's painful to witness, but I don't really feel like there's a reason I am going through it with her. Because of the expressive art, I feel happy when she's happy, and worried when she's hurting. But the narrative movement seems to be in no particular direction and there's not enough reflection on her experience or shaping of it. A lot of people are frustrated by because the memoir is pretty fictionalized. That doesn't bother me. Maybe she could have been more clear about it at the beginning of the book. "Be Prepared: A Memoir That Has Some Fiction In It"? But she does talk about it at the end of the book, which is more than a lot of other memoirists have done. And yeah, the cliffhanger at the end. Not sure what to make of that. It was frustrating because finally it felt that the book was falling into a kind of shape, offering some closure, and then blam! Random cliffhanger. But I guess it's because there's another memoir coming. All in all, this is more of a two star book for me. It just lacks coherence and I couldn't really connect to much of it. But the art is great and there are moments when the art and storytelling come together in delightful and compelling ways.
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  • Peacegal
    January 1, 1970
    BE PREPARED is a great graphic memoir about one young girl's attempt to navigate the perils of life at age 9. Although some of the content is very specific to her growing up Russian-American, a lot of it is universally relatable. The passages about feeling "on the outside" among other groups of girls, girl-led ostracism, and trying to "win" friends by drawing cartoons for people were mortifyingly familiar for me.
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  • Aliza Werner
    January 1, 1970
    Love this autobiographical graphic novel of young Vera going to Russian camp. I was excited to have my 3rd graders grab it, but there a few parts that take this one up to a true middle grade read (name calling: "tit head", older campers caught making out, period-stained undies flying from the flagpole). Many kids will relate to the challenges of friendships and navigating new situations.
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  • Rod Brown
    January 1, 1970
    With strong art and solid writing, this is a well-done addition to the coming-of-age summer camp subgenre. The Russian Orthodox background of the characters gives the book a unique flavor. I'd like to see a follow-up to the little cliffhanger at the end.
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  • Abby Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    Almost-10-year-old Vera is on the outside a lot. Although she gets invited to slumber parties with the other girls, she's never really part of the in-crowd. And when she tries to throw her own birthday slumber party, things go horribly awry. Vera always feels different than the other kids and part of that is because, as Russian immigrants, her family is different. Which is why, when Vera hears about a Russian culture summer camp sponsored by her church, she is desperate to go. All the kids in he Almost-10-year-old Vera is on the outside a lot. Although she gets invited to slumber parties with the other girls, she's never really part of the in-crowd. And when she tries to throw her own birthday slumber party, things go horribly awry. Vera always feels different than the other kids and part of that is because, as Russian immigrants, her family is different. Which is why, when Vera hears about a Russian culture summer camp sponsored by her church, she is desperate to go. All the kids in her neighborhood disappear to go to various camps in the summer and Vera's sure she's finally found a place where she will really fit in.But camp is not at all what Vera expected. She's put into a tent with two girls who are best friends and who are much older than her. There's no running water, which means using a disgusting outhouse for two weeks, and Vera can't seem to do anything right. Having no friends at camp is even worse than having no friends at home because at home at least a bear's not going to eat you. And you have toilets.This story is based on author Vera Brosgol's actual experiences and she definitely captures that feeling of being on the outside. What strikes me about this book is that it's so raw and real; Vera makes some bad decisions and some cruel decisions sometimes. Even though she knows how it feels to be the odd one out, she still is sometimes mean to some of the other kids. When you're growing up and you're figuring things out, you don't always make the right decisions and Brosgol doesn't shy away from that.Camp is made out to be this idyllic experience that everyone looks back on with nostalgia and longing. And it's not that way for everyone! I was one of those kids who went to camp and did not have an amazing time. I had a fine time, it wasn't torture every minutes, but given the choice I did not elect to go back. So I definitely identified with Vera.So, yes. Go get this book. Add it to your Summer Reading lists. I think it'll be a hit with kids.
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  • Jon(athan) Nakapalau
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful 'camping story' told from the perspective of a young girl! Really enjoyed the way the story looked problems form multiple perspectives - a fantastic 'starting-fall' read!
  • Elizabeth A
    January 1, 1970
    Book blurb: "Be Prepared is a funny and relatable middle-grade graphic novel about navigating your own culture, struggling to belong, and the value of true friendship."This is a fictionalized memoir of the author's experiences at a Russian camp. In America. As a Russian immigrant, all Vera wants to do is fit in, but it's hard to do in America, especially in the suburbs. So when she learns about Russian camp, she figures that's where she'll find her tribe. But all does not go as she expects.This Book blurb: "Be Prepared is a funny and relatable middle-grade graphic novel about navigating your own culture, struggling to belong, and the value of true friendship."This is a fictionalized memoir of the author's experiences at a Russian camp. In America. As a Russian immigrant, all Vera wants to do is fit in, but it's hard to do in America, especially in the suburbs. So when she learns about Russian camp, she figures that's where she'll find her tribe. But all does not go as she expects.This is a cute, if slight sad, story about a young girl trying to fit in and figuring things out in a culture not hers. It's something every single immigrant kid deals with, and I appreciated some very specific things this graphic novel highlighted - like the songs at camp - oh my goodness, I guess all cultures do that. I thought it was just mine! The scenes at camp are a tad too episodic and lacked coherence for this adult reader, but again, I'm not the target reader, and potty (in this case outhouse) humor is mostly lost on me. The overall message to be yourself, do what you enjoy, and find people who have similar interests is a good one. The art is really cute, and I especially liked the letters that open and end the book. I would however suggest reading the author's note at the end to understand the context before starting.
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  • Liv (Stories For Coffee)
    January 1, 1970
    A cute graphic novel full of shenanigans and adorable art. It was a great afternoon read, but didn’t have the best storyline in the world.
  • Julie Kirchner
    January 1, 1970
    I love graphic novels and how this format appeals to a wide range of students. This book will definitely be popular with students, but I did have some concerns about whether I feel comfortable promoting it with my elementary students. Vera Brosgol wrote this as a semi-autobiographical story about her trips to Russian summer camp. The moments prior to camp at the friend sleepover and hosting her own sleepover birthday party were heart breakingly real. My own heart ached for her as she tried to fi I love graphic novels and how this format appeals to a wide range of students. This book will definitely be popular with students, but I did have some concerns about whether I feel comfortable promoting it with my elementary students. Vera Brosgol wrote this as a semi-autobiographical story about her trips to Russian summer camp. The moments prior to camp at the friend sleepover and hosting her own sleepover birthday party were heart breakingly real. My own heart ached for her as she tried to fit in with the other girls. When she decides Russian Camp will be the answer to fitting in, I assumed it might not be quite that easy. However, I had no idea how bad it might be. When a rookie nine year old is placed in a tent with two experienced fourteen year olds who treat her horribly because she doesn’t wear a bra and isn’t interested in boys, I was appalled that this might be true to life. The stinky outhouse toilets with no doors and boys stealing flags while they are in use...I just can’t even imagine how horrifying this would be. For me, my concerns are with the incident where the boy gets stung, swells up and is called tit head and also where the girls fly the period stained underwear up the flagpole. These two scenes make it so I don’t feel I can put this in my K-5 library because I have many younger students who read our graphic novels. It’s unfortunate because I know my fourth and fifth graders would love it. I’m sure this one will be a huge hit with middle school readers!
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Unfortunately, the part where they chanted "tit head" at someone is going to make it far-less marketable in the community where I work.
  • destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
    January 1, 1970
    Be Prepared is a (mostly) autobiographical graphic novel about the author's experience at a Russian summer camp as a child. It's neat to read about, and it's a cute graphic novel with some good humorous moments, though I thought it was a little bit longer than it needed to be.
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  • Bella Erickson
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed reading this book and I thought it was really funny. A story of a young girl's life that I got a good laugh at. I think this book would be most necessary for girls though. Like I said before, I really enjoyed it.
  • Raina
    January 1, 1970
    Vera's first camp experience!Great graphic novel fictionalized memoir (Brosgol is very straightforward about this in the afterword). Brosgol is a star. This graphic novel is black and white with green and well told. The thing I remember grabbing my heart the most is the stuff about class. Vera wants to go to camp as a way to fit in with the "American" girls. She feels like an outsider when she goes to their sleepovers, and looks forward to her own birthday sleepover as a chance to fulfill her dr Vera's first camp experience!Great graphic novel fictionalized memoir (Brosgol is very straightforward about this in the afterword). Brosgol is a star. This graphic novel is black and white with green and well told. The thing I remember grabbing my heart the most is the stuff about class. Vera wants to go to camp as a way to fit in with the "American" girls. She feels like an outsider when she goes to their sleepovers, and looks forward to her own birthday sleepover as a chance to fulfill her dreams. Things do not go as she plans in a really heartbreaking way.Read with Raina Telgemeier's stuff, of course, and all the other great JGNs of the type.
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  • La Coccinelle
    January 1, 1970
    In the vein of graphic novel memoirs such as Cece Bell's El Deafo comes Be Prepared, a funny look at the author's experience at a Russian summer camp.Like El Deafo, the author makes it clear that some parts of the story have been fictionalized, either for simplicity or for interest's sake. But I'm not sure if it really matters if it's 100% true or not (and at least she didn't pull a James Frey and try to pass it off as a completely true story). Anyone who's been to summer camp (or even camping) In the vein of graphic novel memoirs such as Cece Bell's El Deafo comes Be Prepared, a funny look at the author's experience at a Russian summer camp.Like El Deafo, the author makes it clear that some parts of the story have been fictionalized, either for simplicity or for interest's sake. But I'm not sure if it really matters if it's 100% true or not (and at least she didn't pull a James Frey and try to pass it off as a completely true story). Anyone who's been to summer camp (or even camping) can probably relate to a lot of the issues that Vera has to face during her time at camp: the crappy (pun intended) facilities, the level of stinkiness (probably due in part to the crappy facilities), the bugs, hearing weird noises in the woods, rain, the annoying people you have to share your tent with, etc.I felt so sorry for Vera as she struggled to make friends. She thought going to camp would do it for her, that she would finally have something in common with all the other girls in school: summer camp. But that's not the way it turned out. As one of the younger campers in her group, she was often used by the older girls when they wanted something... and inevitably blamed when something went wrong. When she finally found her footing and started to understand what she needed to do to be happy at camp, I was so glad.The illustrations are cute, and Brosgol really captures the personalities of the characters with her drawing. Everyone--from the boy who everyone thinks is cute to the chipmunks to Vera herself--is rendered in an accessible way. (Unlike some graphic novels I've read where you kind of have to squint and turn the page sideways to figure out what the heck you're looking at, Be Prepared uses clean lines and minimal shading to great effect.) I am a little disappointed that the book isn't in full colour like the cover, though. I might've given it an extra star had that been the case; as it is, it's all in black and white and puke pea-soup green.The ending suggests that the author's had an interesting life. I wonder if she'll write any more partially fictionalized memoirs about growing up. If she does, I wouldn't mind reading them.
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  • Lindsay
    January 1, 1970
    There is a special circle of Hell in childhood designated to summer camp, at least for some of us, and this newest from Brosgol captures it perfectly. While I don't share the same experiences of being Russian in America, I certainly sympathized with the essence of her childhood--when you're already an outcast, you dream that you can get away from your present problems, but they generally always followed you no matter how far away you put yourself physically. I love that Brosgol doesn't sugarcoat There is a special circle of Hell in childhood designated to summer camp, at least for some of us, and this newest from Brosgol captures it perfectly. While I don't share the same experiences of being Russian in America, I certainly sympathized with the essence of her childhood--when you're already an outcast, you dream that you can get away from your present problems, but they generally always followed you no matter how far away you put yourself physically. I love that Brosgol doesn't sugarcoat it either--that in the end, while there were a few good moments, she knew enough that she never wanted to return (well, in essence, as she explains at the end how this was an amalgamation of her experiences). I would have found so much solace in this had it been around when I was a kid.Many thanks to First Second and NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book.
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