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Camo Girl

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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  465 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Set in a suburb of Las Vegas, Ella and Zachary, called Z, have been friends forever, but Z has always been “the weird kid” in their class. He collects stubby pencils, plays chess, and maintains an elaborate –and public– fantasy life, starring himself as a brave knight. Z’s games were okay back in 3rd or 4th grade, but by no ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Aladdin
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VCFA Student/Alum Books
24th out of 135 books — 23 voters
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Mock Printz 2012
46th out of 50 books — 275 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 886)
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Tasha
The author of The Rock and the River returns with another amazing book. Ella is not part of the popular crowd at school. In fact, she is the lowest of the low. Teased by about her uneven skin coloring, some of her classmates call her Camo Face, Ella has trouble even looking at herself in the mirror. She has her best friend, Z, who has been her friend for many years, but Z is getting stranger and stranger, losing himself in stories and roles. Now there is a new boy at school, a boy who doesn’t se ...more
Zandra
Ellie and Z are best friends bonded by being different and thus the target of a school bully. Z lives in an imaginary world while Ellie, the only African American at her school, has a mottled commplexion and is known as "camo girl." When new student Baily James arrives at school, Ellie is no longer the only African American. She and Baily forge a friendship that Z is not at all comfortable with. While Ellie like having a new friend and being accepted at the cools kids table, she feels an obligat ...more
Jen
Ella is the only African American kid at her school and it doesn’t help that her skin is darker in some spots and lighter in others. Her father died when she was in third grade and since then her life seems to be falling apart. Her ex-best friend Millie doesn’t want to have anything to do with now, and Millie only hangs with the popular 6th grade crowd. “Z” is Ella’s only friend; Zachariah lost his dad too, but in a different way. His Dad left when he lost all his family money while gambling, so ...more
Claire
This is an excellent Middle School novel. Bullied in school, Ella and Z have had some tough issues and have only each other for friendship. Ella's dad died of cancer and Z's dad abandoned he and his mom. Ella's mom had to take a job where she is home only 3 days per week, so her grandma came to live with them and she gets along okay, but life is even harder for Z. When his dad left, he and his mom lost their home and now they secretly sleep inside the local 24-hour Walmart Store where is mom wor ...more
Elizabeth
Camo Girl so perfectly captures the tension of friendship and the budding awareness of social hierarchy in late elementary/early middle school. Ella and her best friend Z are what I would call young. They aren’t quite ready to join the fracas of their peers stratifying, but Ella at least isn’t immune to the pull of popularity.

Add to this that Z has a difficult home situation that has driven him into a rich fantasy world. And Ella has what sounds like vitiligo, which causes the skin to look mottl
...more
Oak Lawn Public Library - Youth Services
Lexile Level: 600L
Pages: 224

Summary: An African-American girl with vitiligo is friends with a boy who has trouble living in the real word. They are both outcasts, but then comes a new boy into her life. He will bring the African-American school population to two. He seems perfect and all put together to his classmates, but he has difficulties too. Will these three teens change each other’s lives?

Recommendations or Comments: This book has a lot going on in it. Almost too much. Kids will probably
...more
Jeanne
I really loved The Rock and the River, but I was a little disappointed in Camo Girl. Part of the difference is just the genre; realistic fiction of tweens is definitely not a favorite of mine. And what Magoon did so well, Ella's raw emotions, is exactly what turns me off in these books. I really liked Bailey and I liked what a good friend Ella is to Z. The emotions of this book are incredibly heavy, but I'm not sure if the full impact of it will be felt by its intended audience. I just about cri ...more
Amanda
Typical coming of age/multi cultural book. There was a lot (maybe too much) going on in Ella's life that made her tricky to relate to as a character.
Ms.  Garrett
Great, heartfelt read. Ella and Z have found common ground and friendship in the fact that they are both outsiders at school. They band together to cope with the bullying they face. When a new student, Bailey, shows up at school, befriending Ella, Z feels left out and runs away. Bailey and Ella set out to find him, discovering along the way the commonalities the three share.

The first thing I loved about this book is that it features a bi-racial protagonist, but there is so much more to love. The
...more
Simone
Great mid-level read about preserving friendship within the tenuous social-landscape in middle school, while each dealing with hardships that make them "broken." It's refreshing to have an age-appropriate read that still deals with the reality of things like the death of a parent, another parent leaving the family in debt (resulting in homelessness), and a parent suffering PTSD after coming back from serving in Iraq. These are harsh things in the lives of young teens, but the way the book deals ...more
BAYA Librarian
Bullying has become so routine to Ella Cartwright that she keeps not one, but two spare changes of clothes in her locker. Branded a freak and nicknamed “camo face” by her all-white classmates, dark-skinned Ella has found her place as a friend and quasi-caregiver to Z. Tiny, dorky and totally out of touch with reality, Z creates fantasy worlds and heroic characters for the two of them, sealing their bond while keeping the rest of the world at bay. That is, until Bailey moves to town. African Amer ...more
Doret
Ella has recently started the 6th grade and everything has changed. Before Ella was best friends with Zachary and Millie. Now Millie has moved on, leaving Ella and Zachary to be the outcast. Both are teased for different reasons. Ella because she's the only Black girl in her class. The taunts are worse because Ella has white splotches on her face. Some of Ella's classmates call her camo face.


Zachary is picked on for always creating imaginary worlds. Sometimes Ella plays along. Zachary becomes Z
...more
Natalie Cheetham
Ella and Z are both outsiders. Ella is the only black person in her class, and is picked on because she suffers from vitiligo. Z is ostracized because he lives in a fantasy world where he is a knight and Ella is a princess. There are times when Ella imagines life without the oddities of Z, but then she realizes she would be alone. But, when Bailey James, an African American child of the military moves to town, things begin changing...Ella begins to realize she might not be alone...and she might ...more
Katrina Burchett
Z is different because he has a great imagination. Ella is different because she’s the only black student in the school. All they have is each other, the only two at a table in the cafeteria and no other kids to walk with after school. There used to be three of them, but, Millie, the girl they grew up with, went her own way after grade school and found a place among the popular crowd in middle school. Z doesn’t care about being popular, but Ella wouldn’t mind sitting with the popular kids at lun ...more
Angela
I loved The Rock and the River last year, so I was very excited to pick up this novel. In some ways it's radically different from Magoon's previous novel, but in other ways it explores many of the same themes through a totally new lens.

Magoon is a little vague on some of the details here - we know Ella's skin tone is uneven for some reason, and her best (only) friend Z isn't really named Z or even Zachariah. Both kids, and new boy Bailey, are missing their fathers, but the reasons for the missin
...more
Becky
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chelsea
As usual, the Newbery contenders are the books I wouldn't normally read but when I do, I'm always impressed. I love books that are able to truly understand the 5th and 6th grade years and all the ambiguity that goes with the desire to keep childhood friendships while gaining teenage ones, the first beginnings of navigating potential romance, and all the uncertainty of knowing where one fits in to a world that used to be so familiar.

Magoon shows a deep understanding of this age, as her heroine E
...more
Julie Esanu
Have you ever felt that you are different from everyone else and that you don't fit in? Are you uncomfortable in your own skin? If so, then meet Ella and know that you are not alone. Ella's father died and her only friend is Z, who is very sensitive and different from the other kids at school. Ella and Zachary are old friends and have been through a lot together, and are considered to be the "weird kids" in school. Ella is teased by the other kids at her middle school who call her "camo girl" be ...more
Jessica
Sixth-grader Ella Cartwright only has one friend, Z. Z is an outcast, bullied every day for the weird way he talks and his poverty (he and his mother secretly live at the Wal-Mart where she works). Z doesn't know, or blocks out, that he is being bullied. Ella feels it is her duty to protect him, and to stay with Z, since she is an outcast too, ever since the school bully notices her "camo face"--some kind of skin discoloration that isn't described fully--and starts to mock her in school. In addi ...more
Barbara
Ella Cartwright’s best friend is Z or Zachariah and he needs protection. Z lives in a fantasy world that she helped him create where he is a brave knight and she is a fair lady because sometimes the real world is just so hard to deal with since his father abandoned him and his mom. Ella has her own problems too; the cool kids, mostly boys, tease her about her uneven complexion calling her Camo Face because someone thought it looked like desert camouflage; her father has died of cancer, her grand ...more
responsivereads
Beginning 6th grade can be a nightmare for some kids. The nightmare is usually reserved for the unpopular, the awkward, the different. Ella and Z are the poster kids for the adolescent nightmare of middle school, unpopular, awkward and different. Ella is a narrator that many of us formerly "left out" kids can relate to. The hair that won't lay down right, the used to be best friends that are now the "popular kids" and the parents/grandparents that try to convince you of your greatness when every ...more
Sarah
This is a story about the ups and downs of friendship and family, but also about sadness and poverty and mental illness and death--no melodrama from Magoon, but plenty for teen readers to think about and relate to.

Ella's a sixth-grader who sees herself only as an ugly misfit, even around her two closest friends: Millie, who seems to have abandoned her for the popular crowd, and "Z," who has retreated into a strange fantasy world. The compassionate Ella is unsure where to draw the boundary of tak
...more
Sharon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abby Johnson
Ella brushes her teeth with her eyes closed each morning so that she doesn't have to see her reflection in he mirror. She once had a very best friend, but now her only friend is Z, a boy whose weirdness makes him a social pariah like Ella. The bullies call her "Camo Face" because of her mottled skin. You'd think Ella would be used to it by now, but every time hurts like the first time.

But when Bailey James starts at her school, things begin to change. Bailey shows an interest in her... and yes,
...more
Jenni
This book starts off very slowly and I couldn't get into it. Towards the middle it starts to pick up more.

This was a book battle book that I had to read. I wouldn't recommend using it for a book report because there isn't enough character development.

It is a quick read once you finally get into the story. It just took me a couple of days to get to that point.
Huma
When I read this book, it gave me an ache in my heart. Not because I was reading about a great and terriable love, but because how much I could relate to it.
The bullying, the self-confidence, the race issue, trying to be popular, accepting you aren't pretty but maybe attractive to someone. This book, is so well-crafted. If only I had found this four years ago...
Brandy
The minute I began reading Camo Girl I was instantly hooked. The story is brilliant and I really felt like I was next to “Z” and “Ellie-Nor” the whole time I was reading. It is unfortunate that kids treat other kids as outsiders; my heart went out to these two children because of the mistreatment they had to endure. One of the main reasons I picked this title to read is because the name sparked my curiosity. I was pleasantly surprised and glad I decided on this book.

Camo Girl describes the cond
...more
Joan
Ella and Z have been through a lot together. They cling to their fantasy world to avoid the pain of the real world until Z's problems become to big to ignore. Ella and newcomer Bailey (also shouldering more than his share of problems) go on a dangerous quest to find Z. Magood create great characters that the readers care about.
Kris
Recommended for gr. 6-8. Older students could easily relate to it, but the characters are definitely middle school aged. This is an excellent story, told by Ella, a girl who is very self-conscious about her face. Her skin tone is very blotchy which leads one of the mean boys to call her Camo-Face. Her closest friend is Z, who lives in his own fantasy world. Her former best friend has deserted her for a popular group now that they are in middle school. A new boy, Bailey James, moves to town and E ...more
Leigh Collazo
(more reviews at http://readerpants.blogspot.com)

Oh, I so loved this book! As cliched as the summary may sound, Camo Girl has nothing at all to do with popular cliques of mean girls or choosing your friend over popularity. Ella, Z, Millie, and Bailey are all believable characters facing realistic situations and plausibly resolving them as children of their age probably would. With regard to Z, Ella feels guilt, love, anger, and fiercely protective of Z, all at the same time. Ella knows what it i
...more
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