To Night Owl from Dogfish Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer

This ode to friendship, Summer Camp and twist on the Parent Trap is a great little read on many levels and is ideal for young writers and readers to study in whole or excerpt for many reasons.

Admittedly it is rather American in setting for British readers after all we don’t do Summer Camp as the phenomenon over here. Nevertheless it still resonates on topics of adolescence, friendship and family.

This gorgeous cover with metallic accents and interior layouts were designed by Mina Chung

Bett has found out a secret and it’s a disaster. Her dad is dating a guy from New York and it sounds serious; serious enough for them to send their respective daughters to the same Summer Camp in the hope they become as close as family.

Bett is determined to stop this happening and to split the dads up so she finds Avery’s email and recruits her to the plan… but of course, best laid plans and all that.

Even though we agreed it makes sense NOT TO TALK TO EACH OTHER AT ALL there’s still stuff to say…

The ups and downs of friendship are explored across the novel as strangers are determined NEVER to be friends, the ins and outs of building meaningful rather than proximal connections and the struggles of keeping friendship going especially when you hit rough patches. It’s an excellent book for tweens and young teens especially to read as their lives and interests may diversify from their friends in this time of rapid change and personal development.

On an inclusivity level this book hits a lot of underrepresented groups which is fantastic especially in middle grade fiction. Both girls have single gay fathers, one of whom is Black and her other late father was of Mexican heritage, one was born of a mistaken college fling and the other through planned surrogacy which is a great book for inclusivity as positive representations of LBTQIA+ families and those within BAME communities are wonderful to enable children to see many different types and shapes of families.

From: Bett Devlin
To: Avery Bloom
Subject: Re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: you don’t know me

It’s very pacey due to the epistolary structure, the entire novel is conducted through short emails and occasional text messages between the girls and other characters that by design means we get snappier summaries of the action, but also the reliability and characterisation of narrators is explored gently yet clearly and compared much more easily than across other more traditional novels.

I could see this being an excellent literacy tool in the classroom whether excerpt on in whole for teaching narrative, voice, tone, structure and even for looking at what is appropriate in formal/informal communications.

Why would anyone just assume a kid collected stuff? It’s really insulting.
Okay, I do have my organic material scarves and my first edition novels, and also my minor obsession with feathers. There’s also… But that’s all none of his business.

There’s value on re-reading and as an older reader much reminds me of the experience of continually re-reading The Diary Of Adrian Mole where age changes your experience as a reader as the naivety and innocence of youth create sweet but humorous moments such as outrage at what mortifyingly uncool adults think kids are interested in followed by comments that basically prove the adult right! The essence of ‘Stephanie is into Hunks’ along with the complexities of female tween relationship and adolescence reminds me of some of the issues and scenes in Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume (Piccalo 1988) but for 2019.

Overall, this is a lovely book full of meaningful interactions and thought-provoking conversations and feelings where sometimes adults act like children and children make grown up decisions but ultimately a sweet and heart-warming ride of a novel.

To Night Owl from Dogfish Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer is published by Egmont.

I received this book for free through a review scheme, this has not affected my opinion.

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