Lumberjanes Series Overview

lumberjanesA summer camp for “hard-core lady types”, filled with bear-women, dinosaurs, alternate time dimensions, and a whole lot more crazy supernatural stuff, is the setting of Lumberjanes. Lumberjanes is a graphic novel series created by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen. Lumberjanes is chaotic and full of the unexpected, and it’s great. It follows five best friends, April, Molly, Mal, Jo, and Ripley, during their time at summer camp, which is way more magical (literally) then they ever could have expected. And for the most part, they just roll with it, which makes for some great adventures.

The characters, both main and supporting, are diverse and well rounded. There is a lot of representation going on in these comics, which is great, especially for an all ages comic. One area of representation that I was very pleased to see was LGBT+ because it’s largely absent from most all ages/kids media.

The supernatural aspect of the story is really enjoyable. It’s a bit random and not always super explained, but it’s always really fun and just seems to work. You never know what kind of supernatural antics will occur, but whatever they are, you know they will be enjoyable, even if they don’t totally make sense.

One thing that I think is a really nice touch is the way they work the Lumberjanes earning badges into the story. For each story arc (which lasts a few comics each), there is a page at the begging detailing a badge they are working on. The story somehow ties into that. It’s an interesting take on the idea of scouts earning badges because with the Lumberjanes, the requirements for getting a badge are never as straight forward as it seems.

Being a comic series, the art is an important aspect. And honestly, I have mixed feelings about this. Their isn’t a constant artist/style for the series, and while I’ve never read an issue where the art was bad, there have been some that just didn’t feel like Lumberjanes to me. Sometimes the art is fairly realistic, sometimes it’s more stylized, so it’s really a matter of personal preference whether or not  you like the art in a specific issue. Overall though even when I’m not  a fan of the art I still love reading the comics because the story and the characters are always great.

Lumberjanes has been around for a little while now, there are currently 33 issues of the main series comic, with the 34th being released later this month, as well as a spin off series and some one-offs. This may be a bit overwhelming for some new readers, but as far as comics go it’s not really all that much, plus it would be pretty great to be able to read that many back to back without having to wait.

Overall Lumberjanes is a really fun read that’s doing some great things in terms of representation and overall is something I highly recommend.

-Angela J.

Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs

spycamp_stuartgibbsStuart Gibbs wrote Spy Camp as a sequel to his first espionage novel, Spy School.  Ben Ripley, a.k.a. Agent Smokescreen, is no “regular” kid for his age. He is a spy in training for the CIA and spent the last year learning and preparing to be a spy while his friends back home think he is at a dumb science school.  That’s how secretive the CIA is.  Even his parents think that he has a scholarship to this school. However, the school year is over now.  Ben is getting ready to come home for the summer when the principal notifies him that he and all of his other classmates are going to a spy camp.  Ben has never been to camp before.  He is a little nervous, but then he receives a contract from the enemy group, SPYDER, with a death threat.  This reminded me of the song, Camp Granada, by Allan Sherman.  In the song, the young camper details all the horrible circumstances he has to endure.

Ben is put under “extra extra protection” from SPYDER.  Despite these precautions, when his special training starts in the woods, his group is ambushed.  Ben only has his friend Erica, an amazing spy, to help him.  It is very unlikely he will come out of this situation alive.  For he is wanted DEAD OR ALIVE! It was at this point when I remembered the song “Double Agent” by Rush because both Ben and the song lyrics desire to be “anywhere but here”. Ben is scared and feels as though he is useless to solving the problem at hand. To make matters worse, nobody from his family and none of his friends know how dire the state he is in.

I would recommend this book to any young spies out there or anyone who read the first book. A big thumbs up to Stuart Gibbs for Spy Camp.

-Maya S.

Spy Camp is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library