Going to sleepaway camp is a familiar rite of passage for many children. Meyerhoff does an excellent job of capturing the essence of the experience for the first time camper. Sami does NOT want to go to camp. She is not interested in new experiences, and going to Camp Cedar Lake at the same time as her obnoxious cousin, Daniel, only adds to her apprehension. Sami is counting on her big sister, Maya, to help her adjust to camp. Initially, Sami’s negative attitude gets in the way of her fun. She’s annoyed with everything and everyone, including her sister. But when her bunkmate, Gabby, becomes homesick, Sami reaches out. As their friendship grows, Sami’s attitude begins to change. Sami learns a lot about herself and others including her cousin, Daniel, who she comes to view in a new light. As expected, Sami ends up participating in games and activities and ends up loving camp!
Sami is a likeable, quirky girl — even when her attitude is less than cheery. She writes songs and peppers her language with Yiddish words she has learned in a class she takes with her grandma. The Jewish aspect of camp is well woven into the story. Jewish kids will recognize their own camp experiences. There is just enough tension to keep readers interested. Coupled with the well-drawn details of camp activities, Sami’s Sleepaway Summer is perfect for a youngster preparing for sleepaway camp or any new life experience. Highly recommended for ages 7 – 9.