Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, Faith Erin Hicks
First Second, 2010
The creative team that brought the excellent City of Spies is back with their second graphic novel, this time with the talented Faith Erin Hicks (whose War at Ellsmere I previously reviewed on this blog) handling the art duties. From the jacket design to the wonderfully creepy story, Brain Camp is a another wonderfully unique work of comics that belongs in your school's library.
Immediately appealing to students is the setting of Brain Camp; a summer camp for the gifted. Protagonists Jenna and Lucas endure all of the usual calamities that befall adolescents while away at summer camp, including cliques, weird food, and out-of-touch camp counselors. Jenna and Lucas are in for a surprise though, as it is clear that their are some dark secrets that the camp leaders are concealing -- strange, mystical secrets...
Brain Camp should appeal to middle school readers who've been devouring traditional novels of vampires, werewolves, and the like. In fact, Brain Camp might be a perfect entrance point to the world of comics and graphic novels; the panel layouts are very clear and easy to follow, and Hicks has a way of blending both realistic and cartoonish rendering of characters and settings. First Second is really leading the way in graphic novel publishing aimed at kids, and Brain Camp might be their best contribution to the medium yet.