Be Prepared

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Be Prepared Book Poster Image
Smart, funny account of summer camp discomfort.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows what summer camp can be like and offers insight into the cultural differences between Russia and the United States. Offers opportunities to discuss what it's like to feel like an outsider.

Positive Messages

The best way to make friends is to be yourself while being kind to others. It's best to have realistic expectations about new experiences.

Violence

Two girls get into a scuffle about a boy.

Sex

The older girls tease Vera for not wearing a bra and for not knowing what a maxi pad is for. Someone runs a girl's bloody underwear up the flagpole.

Language

A boy stung by a wasp is nicknamed "Tit Head."

Consumerism

Vera gets in trouble for bringing Skittles to camp.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Be Prepared is a nonfiction graphic novel memoir by Russian-born Vera Brosgol (Anya's Ghost), who moved to the United States when she was 5. It portrays 9-year-old Vera's struggles to be accepted at a camp for Russian speakers only. Two girls compete for the affections of one of the boys and get in a mild physical scuffle. There are discussions of bra sizes, maxi pads, and menstrual periods. A camper stung by a wasp is called "Tit Head." 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9 year old Written byMQueen September 12, 2018

Okay...

this book was an okay graphic novel. there are some inappropriate love scenes you might want to watch out for. and it can also get boring at times. but there ar... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

At the beginning of BE PREPARED, 9-year-old Vera wants nothing more than to go off to summer camp, even if it's one that emphasizes Russian language and traditions. She's not prepared, however, for outhouses, swarms of bugs, mean tent-mates, or hiking in the rain. Gradually, Vera learns to stick up for herself and reach out to people who want to be her friend.

Is it any good?

There are plenty of tales of summer camp hijinks, but few capture the experience with such awkward hilarity as this keenly observed graphic novel. Vera Brosgol puts her own unique spin on Be Prepared. depicting her struggle to fit in at a sleepaway camp for speakers of Russian. She depicts the semi-sadistic antics of the mean girls, the inscrutability of the daily lessons, the horror of the outhouses. The dialogue rings true, and the artwork says in a few panels more than many storytellers achieve in a page or more. Summer camp stories usually follow a prescribed template, but Be Prepared forgoes the usual path and strikes off into new territory. Highly recommended.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Be Prepared works as a graphic novel. What effects can be achieved in comics that are more difficult in prose?

  • Vera's family is from Russia. What does she not understand about American culture? How can one learn to fit into a new culture?

  • Vera's forced to share a tent with older girls. Why does a two- and three-year gap in age make such a difference to boys and girls? How can the imbalance work to kids' advantage?

  • What are some good ways to make new friends? How can you find someone who shares your interests?

Book details

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