Koolura and The Mystery at Camp Saddleback by Michael L. Thal
Koolura Akopyan just graduated from the sixth grade, and, for the most part, she seems like any other “tween.” She likes popular music, movies, gossiping with her friends, and spending time with cute boys. But there’s much more to this young Armenian gal than meets the eye—and, when you find out her secrets, you’ll be shocked, surprised, and thoroughly entertained. Koolura and The Mystery at Camp Saddleback is the second entry in Michael L. Thal’s Koolura series, which finds the familiar protagonist summering at an exclusive camp where mischief and mystery abound. Like any other kid at a new camp, Koolura has to deal with the personality conflicts she has with the other girls, as well as with the downright dirty tricks the male campers play on them from the nearby “Boys’ Mountain.” But some of those tricks are a little too dangerous and underhanded, and, when their lives are threatened, repeatedly, Koolura and her camp friends realize that someone else is to blame…but who? Using her intelligence, problem-solving skills, and incredible psychic gifts, Koolura slowly but surely gets to the bottom of things and figures out who’s causing the ruckus at camp—and, after all is said and done, she forgives the perpetrator and moves on to further forge the friendships created during her compelling coming of age.
Koolura and The Mystery at Camp Saddleback by Michael L. Thal is a short, simple story that’s sure to appeal to readers in their preteen and early-teen years. Young minds will be able to easily grasp the language and plot, and will readily identify with the main character’s very real struggles with dating, peer pressure, and other important social issues. So, too, they’ll be able to learn from Koolura’s use of her psychic gifts—while they might not be able to fly, teleport, or travel through time like Koolura, tween readers will be empowered by her ability to look within herself and rise to the challenges before her and will be encouraged to develop their own strengths. That said, parents should make sure that their children are mature enough to read this title, as it addresses sensitive topics such as discrimination. In particular, anti-Semitic terms are used on rare occasion—so, parents may want to confirm that their children are aware of the pressing concerns surrounding use of such words.
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