Written by Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis
Art by Brooke Allen
Appropriate for Grades: 3rd grade and up
Full disclosure: When I was growing up, I was obsessed with all things related to summer camp. I loved Meatballs, and Salute Your Shorts, and sadly, even Ernest Goes to Camp. I lived for s’mores and spooky stories told around a campfire. The thing is…I’ve never been to camp in my life. I grew up in Chicago, and my family had very little money. The closest I came to camp was the free day camp at the local park (here, “day camp” is code for run around in the sun until you get tired and dehydrated). So when I saw the cover of Lumberjanes I was already on board.
So what is Lumberjanes? It is the story of five best friends spending the summer together at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, the home of the Lumberjanes Scouts. As the summer goes on, they learn there’s more to the camp than meets the eye. The girls endure magical quests, mystical creatures, and a mysterious Bear Lady, all while celebrating friendship to the max and girl power! The creators describe the book as “Baby Sitters Club meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Scooby Doo Goes to Camp.” It’s supernatural, mystery and adventure all wrapped in a ready-for-Cartoon-Network package.
Lumberjanes really shines because of it’s humor and characters. Each of the mains are people the reader can root for and care about by the end of the book. Young and older readers alike will definitely gravitate to Ripley, the wild and hyperactive girl with an endearing innocence and kick-butt attitude that make it hard to not fall in love with her. That may be what makes this title standout the most: the emphasis on the friendship and love these friends have for one another. By the end of the book, readers feel like these girls are their friends, too!
IN THE CLASSROOM
- Lumberjanes really handles character well, so one idea is to explore archetypes through the main characters and antagonists. Students could identify the ways the characters fit and break the archetypal character patterns, and then characterize themselves by connecting their own character traits to those of one of the main characters.
- There’s a bit of mythology in this first volume as well, so students could explore the hero’s journey through Lumberjanes and connect it with texts from other cultural myths.
- At the secondary level, students and teachers could examine feminist themes in the book, and explore the significance of the relationships between the young women in the book.
- Throughout the series, women of historic importance are constantly getting shout-outs. It’s a great opportunity to pause the action and go look these women up, and talk about what their contributions were and why they are important to recognize.
Overall, Lumberjanes is a great book, that features a predominately female cast, and was created by an all-female creative team. The work they are doing is full of fun and adventure, and the characters will appeal to all genders, but this book does a great job of representation for all kinds of girls, from a wide range of experiences and backgrounds.