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Be Prepared

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  6,572 ratings  ·  1,003 reviews

"Beautifully drawn, brutally funny, brilliantly honest. Vera is such a good cartoonist I almost can’t stand it.” —Raina Telgemeier, author of Smile

In Be Prepared, all Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by First Second
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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,572 ratings  ·  1,003 reviews

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Some stories… don't need to be told.

First of all, although this is marketed as a graphic ‘‘memoir,’’ the author admits in her note that a lot of the some stuff in this book is made up, so… not true.

Why would you even write a memoir if you’re not going to be completely honest or fully aware of the memories you’re featuring? The author says she simply couldn’t remember all that well her experience at camp when she was young. In that case, write about something that you DO know. Don’t exaggerate.


that's pretty much the standout part of this book in either direction. it's a classic indoors-kid-goes-to-camp-and-hates-it-and-everything-is-terrible-but-then-she-likes-it-because-she-makes-a-friend-just-in-time-to-leave story. which, like, not my favorite trope? presumably no one's favorite trope? just a lot of gross toilets and bugs and outdoor shenanigans.

BUT. BUTBUTBUT! the art, you guys. the arr
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, graphic-novels
Roller Girl 1-- bookspoils
Summer Camp, Russian Culture, and Belonging

Having adored Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, I was keen on checking out her spin with this gripping and hilarious middle-grade summer camp memoir.

All Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there's one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.

Whitney Atkinson
I enjoyed this! This will be a short review just because the rating speaks for itself. I have nothing particularly outstanding to say about it, but there's also nothing terrible about it. It was entertaining, but it was just okay. Maybe get it from the library instead of buying it
David Schaafsma
Vera Brosgol created Anya's Ghost, which I liked very much, so I looked forward to this tale, since summer camp was important to my early life, and is important to some present members of this house now, including one girl. I expect they may really like this story, which is very much based on Brosgol's largely miserable experiences at camp while growing up. She also explains in an afterword that in the process of creating this graphic novel that she consulted her sisters about what camp had been ...more
Sam Quixote
Be prepared - for a middling childhood memoir comic! Vera Brosgol’s latest book is about her going to a Russian summer camp as a kid and having a bit of a tough time of it. But it’s not all bad and yadda yadda yadda, learning important lessons, etc.

In her afterword she talks about condensing two summers of camp into one to make the narrative more exciting, which is fine, but she also makes some stuff up, which was a bit iffy. The bullied nerd gets to win a bit at the end, Vera stumbles across a
Julie Ehlers
Be Prepared is the second graphic novel I've read by Brosgol (the first was Anya's Ghost), and I liked this one much better. Based on the author's own experiences, this is an absorbing story of a girl who has trouble fitting in and wants nothing more than to go to summer camp, but when she does go it doesn't turn out anything like she was hoping. I thought this might be humorous or even scary, but instead it's mostly sad—although there's definitely a lot of humor mixed in, the experiences Vera h ...more
Wonderful! Think Shannon Hale's REAL FRIENDS, but set at summer camp! I love Brosgol's art (she did one of my top books from last year: LEAVE ME ALONE!), and the true(ish) story of her trying to fit in and make friends, at home and at camp, was funny and heartbreaking in turns. I can't wait to see what she doesn't next!

PS: I burned through this minutes after picking it up from the library, and then handed it to my 9yo daughter, who is absolutely riveted as well. She's a big fan of Raina Telgeme
While I cannot say that I have all that much enjoyed Vera Brosgol's illustrations (as I guess that the mostly green, white and black colours she is using are just not my aesthetic thing so to speak), the general plot lines of Be Prepared have been both entertaining and also rather sadly and frustratingly, uncomfortably nostalgic in a cringeworthy (and "I do not really want to remember" kind of way).

For while I thankfully never did experience the kind of mostly horrible summer camps of Vera Bros
FYI: This story is not about a power-hungry, Machiavellian uncle who hangs out with hyenas.

It's an autobiographical graphic novel about nine-year-old Vera's experiences at a Russian summer camp. Not a summer camp in Russia because those were outlawed last century but, rather, a camp that promotes Russian history and culture that would otherwise be lost to children of Russian ancestry.
Pretty much Girl or Boy Scouts but for Russian kids.

She peer-pressured herself into going and then had a miserabl
Jay G
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Want to see more from me? Check out my Youtube channel:

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this in exchange for my honest review!

Everyone Vera knows gets to go away to summer camp every year. All Vera wants is to be like the other kids in her neighbourhood. Then, one summer, her mother agrees to send her to ORRA, a Russian summer camp for children just like her! Upon arriving, Vera quickly realizes that she is not going to enjoy her time
When I was a child, I lived in a well-to-do neighborhood, and had well-to-do neighbors, and classmates. This was in the days when rich people still sent their kids to public schools. They were the kids, that in high school had their own cards, and went on ski trips, and to Summer camp every year.

While, I, like Vera in this story, had to make to with what we had, and couldn’t afford to do any of the things that my friends were doing. Certainly not Summer camp.

And Vera has the added problem of be
I can’t say enough about the illustrations and how fantastic they were. The story was a bit all over the place and could have been condensed and slightly more cohesive, but I enjoyed the bits of Russian, the icons, and the descriptions of the church. The letters at the beginning and end were almost better than the book! 3 stars
Dov Zeller
Things I like about this book:

expressiveness of the art, style of the art

Things I struggled with in this book:


Somehow the narrative just doesn't come together in a way that I could make sense of. It was chaotic, distractingly episodic, worrisome, strange. Vera goes through all this horrible stuff, and it's painful to witness, but I don't really feel like there's a reason I am going through it with her. Because of the expressive art, I feel happy when she's happy, and worried when she's
Aliza Werner
Love this autobiographical graphic novel of young Vera going to Russian camp. I was excited to have my 3rd graders grab it, but there a few parts that take this one up to a true middle grade read (name calling: "tit head", older campers caught making out, period-stained undies flying from the flagpole). Many kids will relate to the challenges of friendships and navigating new situations.
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
BE PREPARED is a great graphic memoir about one young girl's attempt to navigate the perils of life at age 9. Although some of the content is very specific to her growing up Russian-American, a lot of it is universally relatable. The passages about feeling "on the outside" among other groups of girls, girl-led ostracism, and trying to "win" friends by drawing cartoons for people were mortifyingly familiar for me.
Rod Brown
With strong art and solid writing, this is a well-done addition to the coming-of-age summer camp subgenre. The Russian Orthodox background of the characters gives the book a unique flavor. I'd like to see a follow-up to the little cliffhanger at the end.
Elizabeth A
Book blurb: "Be Prepared is a funny and relatable middle-grade graphic novel about navigating your own culture, struggling to belong, and the value of true friendship."

This is a fictionalized memoir of the author's experiences at a Russian camp. In America. As a Russian immigrant, all Vera wants to do is fit in, but it's hard to do in America, especially in the suburbs. So when she learns about Russian camp, she figures that's where she'll find her tribe. But all does not go as she expects.

Abby Johnson
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost-10-year-old Vera is on the outside a lot. Although she gets invited to slumber parties with the other girls, she's never really part of the in-crowd. And when she tries to throw her own birthday slumber party, things go horribly awry. Vera always feels different than the other kids and part of that is because, as Russian immigrants, her family is different. Which is why, when Vera hears about a Russian culture summer camp sponsored by her church, she is desperate to go. All the kids in he ...more
Julie Kirchner
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, the part where they chanted "tit head" at someone is going to make it far-less marketable in the community where I work.
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Be Prepared is a (mostly) autobiographical graphic novel about the author's experience at a Russian summer camp as a child. It's neat to read about, and it's a cute graphic novel with some good humorous moments, though I thought it was a little bit longer than it needed to be.
There is a special circle of Hell in childhood designated to summer camp, at least for some of us, and this newest from Brosgol captures it perfectly. While I don't share the same experiences of being Russian in America, I certainly sympathized with the essence of her childhood--when you're already an outcast, you dream that you can get away from your present problems, but they generally always followed you no matter how far away you put yourself physically. I love that Brosgol doesn't sugarcoat ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one really surprised me. A book about a girl's experience at summer camp? Meh. Instead, Vera gives us a unique spin: a Russian immigrant child, unable to fit in with her American school and jealous of their summer camp experiences, goes to a Russian camp for Russian kids-- only to find she can't fit in there either. Beautifully rendered and deeply felt, this is a rare case of good writing being able to allow any reader to walk in the main character's footsteps to allow them empathize with a ...more
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really liked this. A graphic novel about fitting in, making friends and trying new things.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yep. I was that dork who didn’t know how to make friends at camp too.
Andi M.
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
So stinking cute. I love Brosgol’s illustrations.
La Coccinelle
In the vein of graphic novel memoirs such as Cece Bell's El Deafo comes Be Prepared, a funny look at the author's experience at a Russian summer camp.

Like El Deafo, the author makes it clear that some parts of the story have been fictionalized, either for simplicity or for interest's sake. But I'm not sure if it really matters if it's 100% true or not (and at least she didn't pull a James Frey and try to pass it off as a completely true story). Anyone who's been to summer camp (or even camping)
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vera's first camp experience!

Great graphic novel fictionalized memoir (Brosgol is very straightforward about this in the afterword).
Brosgol is a star. This graphic novel is black and white with green and well told.

The thing I remember grabbing my heart the most is the stuff about class. Vera wants to go to camp as a way to fit in with the "American" girls. She feels like an outsider when she goes to their sleepovers, and looks forward to her own birthday sleepover as a chance to fulfill her dr
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Vera Brosgol was born in Moscow, Russia in 1984 and moved to the United States when she was five. She received a diploma in Classical Animation from Sheridan College, and currently works at Laika Inc. in Portland, Oregon drawing storyboards for feature animation.

She has done illustration work for clients such as Nickelodeon, Sony Computer Entertainment, and Simon & Schuster. Her first graphic
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