Friday, May 7, 2010

Camp Club Girls: Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise

The Camp Club Girls series is probably my favorite series to follow right now. My daughter and I are equally excited to get a new batch of these books. Written for tween girls, Camp Club Girls books follow six girls who met at Bible camp, and keep in touch via Internet. The girls always have a mystery to solve, and they rely on their wits, their friendship, and the Word of God to help. In Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise, Alexis and Kate spend a week trying to help save a down-and-out nature reserve from closing. The reserve is run by a friend from church, who hopes adding a display of mechanical dinosaurs will generate more interest and boost the reserve's funding.

When the dinosaurs keep migrating to new spots in the park with no sign of humans moving them, reporters and park patrons get curious. The park's owner, Miss Maria, is worried someone could get hurt, since the dinosaurs are heavy, fragile, and are powered by electrical generators or batteries. However, when Miss Maria throws her back out falling off of one of the dinosaurs, the girls are left to solve the mystery on their own.

A snoopy newspaper reporter and an overeager volunteer complicate matters, and soon the girls don't know who to trust. Kate loves technology and her dad is always bringing home experimental devices, so they use hidden cameras and an IPod prototype to take night pictures. They also use some active listening and even a camp-out, to assemble clues. Elizabeth, the oldest Camp Club Girl, encourages them with Bible verses, and the girls learn people are not always who they seem to be.

While the girls are trying to solve the mystery of the moving dinosaurs, they also are trying to come up with a plan to save the park. It looks hopeless when Miss Maria is denied funding based on her exhibit linking plants from biblical regions to Christianity. However, Miss Maria's determination to keep her plant exhibit open, even if it means the reserve may close, makes the snoopy reporter rethink his skepticism. In the end, the reporter is compelled to explore what he believes about God, and the overeager volunteer learns it is better to trust in God than in our own plans. The reserve is saved and the girls have solved another mystery.

What I Like: As I have said in past reviews, these girls are sweet, friendly, and brave, and they genuinely love God. They come from different types of families, and different parts of the country, but they have fun keeping in touch via online networks. They have unique personalities and strengths, as well as struggles. They are great role models for my daughter, even though they aren't perfect. The authors do a great job of incorporating Scripture and biblical truth into original mystery stories.

Mystery is a popular genre for girls this age, and I haven't come across many Christian mysteries for this audience. These books are fun and suspenseful, without being scary.

In Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise, I particularly like Miss Maria's strength of conviction. It is realistic for a public school board to reject funding school field trips due to a religious exhibit, but Miss Maria shows us trusting in God's provision is best, no matter how hopeless a situation seems.

What I Dislike: The plot was a little predictable. Also, the biblical content could be stronger. Each of the books is written by a different author, and it seems some authors find it easier to work prayer and Bible verses into their stories than others. However, Elizabeth, the oldest and most mature of the girls, wasn't in this book much and she definitely has the best grasp on the daily application of Scripture.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: 8-12

Publisher Info: Barbour Publishing, 2010; ISBN: 978-1-60260-270-0; Paperback, $5.97

Buy it Now at for $4.79

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Special Info: Read our reviews of other Camp Club Girls books here.

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