Chiggers by Hope Larson (author/illustrator) (Ages 11-13)


Nerdy, naive Abby can't wait to return to summer camp and see Rose, the older girl who was her friend last year. But this year Rose is busy, and Abby, irritated and hurt, must find someone else to hang out with. Will it be Shasta, the new girl who nobody likes but who shares some of Abby's interests; or punky Zoe (whose language reflects her desire to be supercool) and Beth, Zoe's hanger-on? It's the familiar friendship story, unfolding in somewhat jerky episodes done up in sturdy black-and-white artwork reminiscent of scratchboard. The background will be familiar to any girl who ever went to camp, as will the story's emotional content: the hurtful backbiting, the jealousy, the fear of being ostracized, the rage at being duped, and the complete preoccupation of a first crush. There's even a sweet scene of a first delightful kiss. This may be well-trod territory, but it's traversed with a freshness, sureness, and understanding that speak very well for Larson, who was recognized with a 2007 Eisner Award for new cartooning talent.

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