Review: Camp Prodigy by Caroline Palmer

Camp Prodigy by Caroline Palmer

Camp Prodigy
Caroline Palmer
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Published June 11, 2024

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Camp Prodigy

Perfect for fans of Victoria Jamieson and Raina Telgemeier, this heartwarming middle grade graphic novel follows two nonbinary kids who navigate anxiety and identity while having fun and forming friendships at their summer orchestra camp.

After attending an incredible concert, Tate Seong is inspired to become a professional violist. There’s just one they’re the worst musician at their school. Tate doesn’t even have enough confidence to assert themself with their friends or come out as nonbinary to their family, let alone attempt a solo anytime soon. Things start to look up when Tate attends a summer orchestra camp—Camp Prodigy—and runs into Eli, the remarkable violist who inspired Tate to play in the first place. But Eli has been hiding their skills ever since their time in the spotlight gave them a nervous breakdown.

Together, can they figure out how to turn Tate into a star and have Eli overcome their performance anxieties? Or will the pressure take them both down?

Camp Prodigy on Goodreads

My Review

In the early pages, I found the transitions from one panel to the next a little jarring, but either I acclimated to the storytelling, or the transitions smoothed out by the end of the first chapter. I love the way that Palmer uses color, particularly panels with washed-out colors, to highlight when characters have a strong emotional reaction to something or someone. It made those moments stand out and gave them a huge emotional impact. It was like visually seeing the blood drain from someone’s face.

I liked both Tate and Eli as characters. They have such different personalities, and I enjoyed the way they interacted with one another, pushed each other in healthy ways, and helped give each other space to heal or grow.

The bulk of the story takes place during a month-long overnight summer camp for orchestra students. Tate and Eli both play the viola, so they compete for chair assignments in their section of the orchestra and attend rehearsals. The viola students are a pretty diverse group, both in appearance and personality. Some push for perfection. Others prioritize fun and building social connections in the summer camp environment. The book does a great job balancing and blending scenes showing musical instruction and summer camp activities and using them to show growth in both Tate and Eli.

This graphic novel is a quick, easy read bursting with bright colors and charming personalities. Readers who enjoy summer camp stories, books about musicians and music, or books about exploring identity and building friendships will not want to miss this one.

Camp Prodigy on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Both Tate and Eli are nonbinary. Eli is Black. Tate is Asian American. Characters of other races and ethnicities round out the cast.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
A couple of people make discriminatory comments about someone’s nonbinary identity.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use but help support this blog. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays with Greg Pattridge at Always in the Middle

Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

I’m sharing this post as a part of a weekly round-up of middle-grade posts called Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday. Check out other blogs posting about middle-grade books today on Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays at Always in the Middle with Greg Pattridge.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

8 Responses to Review: Camp Prodigy by Caroline Palmer

  1. Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This sounds like such a great read, Kasey, and I really appreciate you bringing it to my attention! I love your metaphor of the use of color feeling like blood draining from a person’s face—I love when comics come up with clever visual ways to convey meaning. And I love that rather than Tate aspiring to be like this faceless, nameless violist who inspired them, they actually *meet* Eli and get to see them as a full human being.

    Also, I saw a book recently called Upstaged that is also an MG graphic novel, with a nonbinary main character, and set at a summer camp, but it’s a theater camp rather than an orchestra camp! I wonder if readers of one might enjoy the other—I may have to try them both.

    Thank you so much for the thoughtful review, and enjoy your week!

  2. I don’t usually read graphic novels, but this one sounds interesting. Thanks for featuring it this week.

  3. Brenda says:

    Sounds like a lovely book. Competing for those chair assignments brings back memories. Happy MMGM, I was late in getting my in but I do have a post today of The Cookie Crumbles if you’re interested in checking it out. Have a lovely week.

    • Kasey says:

      It’s a classic band/orchestra moment. 🙂 Oooh– The Cookie Crumbles is on my reading list, so I’ll definitely check out your post!

  4. I don’t read too many graphic novels but this sounds like one I would enjoy. Both the characters and setting have me intrigued. Thanks for featuring this title on MMGM.

    • Kasey says:

      Graphic novels have been a more recent interest for me, so I get not reading them so much. 🙂 This is definitely a fun one. Glad the review intrigued you. 🙂 Happy MMGM!

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