Review of Daniel the Camp-er by S. J. Henderson

I’d like to preface this review with an admission – I love reading and reviewing children’s books. To me, reading should be a part of every child’s life and any book that encourages this is fantastic in my view.

Daniel the Camp-er is the follow-up book to S. J. Henderson’s Daniel the Draw-er, which I did not read. Truthfully, I chose the book because I liked the title, story description and book cover. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for me to tire of the non-stop one-liners.Daniel the Camper by S. J. Anderson

In this book, fifth-grader, Daniel, is back and on his way to camp for a week. He doesn’t realize his magic pencil (which enables him to draw things that come to life) has somehow found its way into to his backpack until he’s already unpacking in his camp cabin, which he finds has the embarrassing name of “Chipmunk”. The hilarity soon ensues. When his camp counselor introduces himself as Mark – no, Marq with a ‘q’ –  he is from that moment on referred to as “Marq-with-a-Q”…over and over again. I’m sorry, but this grated on my nerves. I found the author’s description of Marq-with-a Q as, “pimples sprinkle his face like he’s a walking, talking dot-to-dot picture and smells like French fries and sweaty armpits” slightly offensive. Is it me or is this encouraging meanness in children? I’ll let you decide.

Not only has Daniel’s magic pen stowed away in his backpack, he’s surprised when his talking cat tumbles out of his bag as well. As if that’s not enough, Daniel’s arch enemy, Bucky, is at the same camp and in the same “Chipmunk” cabin. Bucky shows Daniel who’s boss by promptly coughing up and propelling “thick and gooey” spit onto the back of Daniel’s leg and then again on his shoe. Marq-with-a-Q says nothing, though he’s supposed to be standing right there showing the campers their temporary digs. Isn’t this an outright display of bullying-gone-unchallenged? Again, I’ll let you decide.

I kept asking myself, “how old is this kid?”. He’s supposed to be in fifth grade, so that would make him either ten or eleven. Instead, in my opinion, he comes across as an immature Henny Youngman, whose one-liners didn’t strike me as funny at all. And I consider my funny bone as well-developed as the next reader.

I know this book has garnered plenty of positive reviews. I absolutely hate giving negative reviews. S. J. Henderson has published her books as a true Indie, so it’s even more painful for me.

Believe me, I enjoy a good kid’s book just as much as the next mom, grandmother and early childhood educator (all of which I am) but I just did not enjoy this book. The book is listed for ages 6 – 12, so maybe very young children will find some humor in it.


3 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

eBook Review Gal received a complimentary copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.