Barbara's Reviews > Postcards from Camp

Postcards from Camp by Simms Taback
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Jul 31, 11

bookshelves: ncbla
Read in July, 2011

In the timeless fashion of those who can afford to do so, his family sends Michael Stevens off to camp. He is less than thrilled with the idea, and a fast-paced campaign to return home ensues with Michael and his father corresponding. (It's wonderful that it's Dad whose letters are included here and not Mom'.) I loved the idea of the book's design with postcards with original artwork on the front and messages on the back as well as envelopes with letters tucked inside. (As a sidenote, I once had a college boyfriend who would spend hours drawing or cutting from magazines the perfect envelope design for the letters he would send to me. I was kind of impressed that he took that much pains with an envelope. Would that he had taken the same kind of care with our relationship.) The paper is quite sturdy so the letters should be able to withstand lots of use. I also loved the cool stamps that often fit the letters' content and the drawings on the envelope; for instance, on one letter about possible alligators at the camp, the stamps feature a catfish and a T. rex. "A Campfire Ghost Story," sent to Michael by his father was scary but amusing at the same time and certainly sounded like the kind of story the boy would enjoy.

But the letters aren't particularly revealing or original--perhaps that's the beauty here, the universality of the camp experience--and eventually, Michael starts to enjoy the experience so much he plans to return next year. The bunk mates who he hated so much turn out to be not so bad, judging from the fact that he sends them a postcard after he goes home. Sometimes, it seems as though neither writer is actually reading the letters or postcards sent by the other one since the connections between pieces of mail is not always clear. There will be some reading between the lines down here, but it's clear that for Michael, this was a risk that was worth taking. I wonder if those who have never been to camp will have a clue about any of Michael's anxieties.
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