Saturday, May 3, 2014

Kid Konnection: Summer on the Short Bus

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you an entertaining young adult book that also deals with some serious issues.

Summary: Cricket Montgomery has been thrown under the short bus. Shipped off to a summer camp by her father, Cricket is forced to play babysitter to a bunch of whiny kids—or so she thinks. When she realizes this camp is actually for teens with special needs, Cricket doubts she has what it takes to endure twenty-four hours, let alone two weeks.

Thanks to her dangerously cute co-counselor, Quinn, there may be a slim chance for survival. However, between the campers’ unpredictability and disregard for personal space, Cricket’s limits get pushed. She will have to decide if suffering through her own handicapped hell is worth a summer romance—and losing her sanity. -- Running Press Kids

Just a few weeks ago, I posted a review for a middle-grade book about a privileged teenage girl who finds herself at a summer camp as a form of punishment. So it's a bit of a coincidence that I am again posting a review for a story about a wealthy teenage girl whose father wants to teach her a lesson by sending her to a summer camp to work as a counselor. This book is titled SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS by Bethany Crandell, and it's actually geared towards young adults rather than middle grade kids. SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS both funny and irreverent (which should appeal to older teens), and I think it has some wonderful life lessons in it. I found it very entertaining!

SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS tells the story of Cricket Montgomery, a rich girl who is forced to spend her summer working with kids. Naturally, she's less than thrilled to ruin her pedicure and give up her brand name clothes; however, when she discovers that the kids at this camp all have special needs, she pretty much freaks out... and I don't mean in a good way.

Cricket doesn't fit in with the other counselors, but she does find herself attracted to one very nice and handsome Quinn. She doesn't do herself any favors with him (or anyone else for that matter) since she's not very open-minded about the camp or the children attending -- she is actually uncomfortable around the kids and doesn't really show them any respect. To gain Quinn's attention and heart, Cricket has to make a lot of changes both inside and out.

I found SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS to be a lot of fun... and it also touched my heart! I have to admit that Cricket rubbed me the wrong way for much of the story (I'm certain she was supposed to!);  however, her thoughts and actions were kind of funny albeit selfish and insensitive. I actually appreciated how much Cricket changed throughout the summer, and as a mom, I really hoped the life lessons she learned will stay with her once she returns home to her privileged life.

I loved that this novel was geared towards young adults because there aren't a lot of books like this for that age range. While the premise could have easily been a middle grade book, the author chose to make Cricket a YA character. I think she is edgy enough to keep a YA audience's attention, and the humor is definitely not for a younger reader.

Ms. Crandell did a fantastic job of balancing the fun and entertaining aspects of this novel with a few lessons about children with disabilities. Ms. Crandell is actually a mother to a child with special needs, so she not only understands what it's like to work with a child like this, but she sees close-up how other react to her daughter. I think her personal experiences shine through in this novel because, while difficult for me to read, I believe that the characters' actions were quite realistic.

SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS would make an excellent book club discussion book for teens or even moms and daughters. I wasn't able to find a formal discussion guide, but rest assured there is a great to deal to discuss. Cricket's character as well as Quinn's both are interesting and it would be fun to analyze their actions and motivations. Some other topics you might want to discuss include parent/child relationships, dating, first impressions, grief, love, sacrifice, selfishness, forgiveness, and redemption.

SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS is a great book. It's fun and serious at the same time and I highly recommend it to teens!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Beth F said...

I like the premise of this, even if you didn't love Cricket right away. I also like that it's a YA book that doesn't involve paranormal or dystopian.

Stacie said...

Interesting that two books kind of had the same theme. I've noticed that in my reviewing, that without knowing I will read two books in a row that both deal with abuse, or mental illness or same time period or similar plots. Glad you liked it. I will have to remember it for our daughter to read.