Cover Image: Camp Shady Crook

Camp Shady Crook

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Member Reviews

A fun heist/con story set at a rundown summer camp. I love heist/con stories when there's a compelling reason for the con. At the start, Archie and Vivian don't really have a reason other than "Because we can." It makes it hard to like them early on in the story. But when their feud blows up in their faces, they discover they are better together. The ending made me want to stand up and cheer. Lots to unpack in this story about what friendship means and how to build friendships. This would make for good discussion in a reading group/book club or for a classroom read aloud.
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Camp Shady Crook is a great summer read for middle grade kids.  I think it has a little bit of something for everyone including summer camps, friendships, a hint of mystery, and figuring out who you are.  Camp Shady Crook is definitely worth checking out!!
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Adult rating: 4 stars
Kid rating: 5 stars

Who wouldn't jump at the chance to re-invent himself? To be the person everyone admires? Archie and Vivian plan to do just that at Camp Shady Brook. Archie is a seasoned veteran, returning for his third summer. He uses the fact that he shares a name with a famous, unrelated billionaire to his advantage. Vivian is new at camp and dreading every minute of it. She's not good at making friends, but she shares something in common with Archie. She's good at conning people.

Archie isn't happy to learn that he has competition this year. If he can just humor this girl and teach her what he knows, she'll be out of his hair after a week. Problem not averted. She's staying for the whole summer, like him. Both of them know this camp is too small for two con artists. One has to go. They make a bet to see who can con a camper out of $50 first. The loser has to give up conning for good. As expected, chaos ensues. Feathers are ruffled. Lessons are learned. There's only one thing left to do. Fix everything with the biggest con yet.

This is a perfect book for kids going into summer vacation. The plot is well crafted. Readers will love these kids who have discovered a talent for conning, but are essentially good at heart. The idea of reinventing yourself will resonate with kids and adults will be glad to know it's all building toward an important moral lesson. My only criticism is that the ending is not as polished as the rest of the book, but a minor detail. Definitely purchasing.
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This was a pretty fun read.  I enjoyed the characters and the plot, although the end was a little over the top.  

Archie was such a solid character.  At home he has issues with his family, at school, typical kid stuff.  But when he gets to camp he puts on this new persona, but he is still Archie underneath.  His cons are pretty simple and the ones we see do work, but he does have some strict rules about who he cons, not the poor scholarship kids and not the little kids, which I really liked about him.  He also feels guilt when one of the kids he cons was maybe not as well off as he thought.  His attitude towards Vivian was also very believable, and as their relationship develops you can tell that they will become very good friends.  

Vivian was a bit harder to like.  She is a bit snobbish and stand-offish to everyone.  As we come to know her, you understand why, but I wish she had been a bit kinder to the other kids.  Her budding friendship with Sasha, was wonderful to watch play out.  Sasha is also going to end up being a solid great friend for Vivian.

I loved both Sasha and Oliver.  Sasha was just so enthusiastic about camp, even when it really sucked.  And Oliver was the perfect right hand man to Archie, what Archie eventually realizes is a good friend too.    Oliver is often the voice of reason for some of Archie’s crazier schemes.  

The plot was a little bit draggy at times, but the cons were great.  Some of Archie’s advice to Vivian was also very standard heist stuff that you see all of the time in movies and tv, but that is ok.  Archie admits to learning most of what he knows by researching on the internet.  Ms. Hess, the camp director, was a believable villain.  We don’t see a whole lot of her in the story, but the stories of her make up for that, as do the times she does show up to make the campers lives miserable.  Archie and Vivian’s final con to get Ms. Hess to make things right is very well thought out and executed.  The ending is maybe a bit rushed and abrupt, but still well done.  

Overall an excellent middle grade book that would be great for a summer beach read, or better yet, while you are at camp!
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Archie Drake has a great thing going-- a great con game, that is-- at Camp Shady Brook. The camp may look great on paper, but its dilapidated buildings, horrible food, and mean director keep kids from coming back more than once. All the easier to trick them out of their pocket change, to Archie. But when Vivian turns up to spend all summer at camp, he's not ready for a rival, let alone one as ruthless as he is. Can the camp survive two con artists in one summer?

This was a fun read about a terrible-sounding camp that will be perfect for summer reading. Both Archie and Vivian do some terrible things, but we get enough of their back stories to sympathize with them, if not the actions they take. The con games got a little mean toward the middle of the book, but ends on a more hopeful note for everyone involved. All in all, a fast-moving book that will be an easy sell to readers at the library this summer.
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Camp Shady Crook is a very shady, and adventurous camp story, set in a run down dump for a camp! Archie and Vivian compete for the rights to hustle the other campers. According to Archie, the number one tip for pulling off a con... know your mark. 
They both get in over their head in a hustle that’s bigger than they intended. Eventually the two team up together to fix a lot of wrongs in the camp and agree to put their cons behind them. 
First of all, I love camp stories, but this story was so unique and original! I enjoyed the main characters and how they developed throughout the story. The camp director was so awful and you sort of wanted her to get the boot for how she treated the campers and left the camp in such disrepair.
If you enjoy camp stories, you will love this one! 
Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for this advanced copy.
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Archie is glad to be returning to Camp Shady Brook on a scholarship, because it is six weeks that he doesn't have to deal with his stepmother and twin half siblings, and time when he can manage to fleece the wealthy camp goers, since his name is the same as one of the richest men in the area. Vivian is not happy to be going to camp, since this is the first time she has not accompanied her travel agent parents on their summer tours, but an unfortunate incident at school caused them to send her somewhere more "constructive". Vivian thinks that she can con her campmates as well, and when Archie sees her doing this, he worries that it will cut into his territory, and tries to scare her off. It seems to work, and he continues his previous tricks, complete with the help of Oliver, a counselor-in-training who pretends to menace Archie but is actually his ally. When Vivian catches the two conspiring, she wants in, and they grudgingly let her run cons with them. Eventually, the two work up to a competition-- Vivian must con her cabin mate, Sasha, and Archie must con an unconnable kid. Both of their cons cause trouble that may negatively impact the camp, so they try the ultimate con-- to put Camp Shady Brook back into the leagues of respectable summer placements for children. 

Strengths: I liked Archie right away, and his backstory was convincing. Vivian was less endearing, with her black leather boots at summer camp and an attitude to match, but she was a nice foil for Archie's preppy camouflage. The counselors were present and just goofy enough, and there was the requisite amount of standard activities, including friendship bracelets, the modern equivalent of lanyards.
Weaknesses: Miss Hess was an over the top villain, the camp seemed luxurious compared to ones I attended and yet was deemed horribly decrepit, and this got rather mean in the middle, before Archie and Vivian decide to mend their ways. 
What I really think: There are so many camp books out right now that I am going to have to assess which ones will best fit my needs. My students do like books with cons, such as Rylander's The Fourth Stall and Schreiber's Con Academy, so this is a possibility.
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