STAR SCOUTS: Summer Camp, Science-Fiction Style

Lynn: When you’re the new kid in town, finding friends can be tough. Mike Lawrence takes an out-of-this-world look at the issue in his recent graphic novel, Star Scouts (2017).  Barrel-racing, rodeo loving Avani Patel is having an especially hard time fitting into her new school, so her well-meaning dad signs her up for Flower Scouts in hopes that Avani finds some friends. But Avani just isn’t interested in their style of scouting, which involves decoupage and talking about boys.

Fortunately, Avani is abducted by aliens. Mabel, a young Zirdonian and Junior Star Scout, is working on her collecting badge and accidentally picks up Avani, whom Mabel believes to be a newt. A friendship blooms, and Mabel invites Avani to join her Star Scouts troop. As it turns out, building robots and learning to fly space ships suit Avani much better than decoupage. After a little permission-slip sleight-of-hand, Avani ditches summer camp at Camp Tulip in favor of Camp Andromeda, which takes place on an asteroid. Challenged by another troop of scouts, Avani, Mabel, and co. have to work together to defeat the methane (who breathe, uh, toots) and to gain earthlings the right to join the Star Scouts.

The action and jokes, perfectly attuned to middle-school sensibilities, travel at light speed. Lawrence’s wonderful illustrations dazzle with clearly defined images and colors. He packs each page with funny details and a charming array of aliens; in addition to the toot-breathers, you’ll meet the delightfully hideous spitooneen.

Avani is a flawed, relatable, easy-to-root-for heroine. Sassy, and stubborn, she loses her temper and gets in trouble for her impulsiveness. Too absorbed in her own misery to recognize a tentative offer of friendship, Avani eventually matures and even recruits another human Star Scout. This appealing book is sure to teleport off the shelf!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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