Michaela Mason's big list of camp worries by Alexa Moses

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I love Michaela Mason! She is not brave, she is not even very resilient… but she is a survivor, and she has heart. In the first book that introduced Michaela Mason she was introduced as an anxious young year 5 who had had to cope with a lot… but who found that making lists helped her stay in control, or at least enabled her to verbalise her fears. In this latest journey into Michaela’s fears …she must face Camp! And camp is filled with moments that are uncomfortable, risky, and challenging for Michaela.  Classmates can be cruel, heights need to be scaled, and kayaking presents all sorts of risks. And allowing the ‘inside Michaela’ with her fears and insecurities to be honest with her friend, Soo-Min, requires a leap of faith that her friendship will survive. Camp may have been high on Michaela’s list of fears, but she does survive, and also discovers some other strengths in the process.

Perhaps because I remember being a child who wanted to avoid anything involving risk, I really connected with Michaela, and I am sure there are other young readers who will recognise themselves. She certainly displays some eccentricities, but her self-awareness and the warmth of her relationship with her mother make her likeable despite her fear-induced quirks. And the class bully and the ‘mean girls posse’ do not have to destroy all joy… they may even have their own problems. I would be happy to recommend this to young readers aged 10-13. It won’t necessarily prevent anxious children from fearing School Camps, but it might help them realise that they are not alone.

Themes: School Camp, Fears, Friendship, Bullying.

Carolyn Hull