Summer Camp: Book II of The Reindeer Chronicles
by Michael McWade
Trafford Publishing

"'Dasher wants to play on the soccer team,' they heard someone say. By this time, a big crowd had gathered."

In this adaptation of the legend of Santa's reindeer, the octet are a group of young reindeer who have just received the call within the last year to help with the annual Christmas sleigh flight. This particular story finds them in their offseason, attending a summer camp that should be familiar to most children. The reindeer are split into equal groups of boys and girls, and each spends their days doing activities and their evenings around the campfire. The boy reindeer are up to mischief and sports, with tomboy Dasher wanting to be on the soccer team rather than in dance class. Meanwhile, Comet is sneaking out at night with a peculiar reindeer named Scooter, in blatant disregard to the camp's rules. With a big soccer match against the Moosehead Lodge approaching and the potential for danger in the deep dark woods, the reindeer are in for a coming-of-age event that will leave them changed forever.

Parents should be aware right away that despite the cartoony illustrations and the seemingly safe subject matter, this series of books is designed to open up some difficult dialogues with children in a safe and trusting environment. In this case, Comet's late night activities with Scooter turn out to involve drug usage, which puts her younger brother's safety at risk. That being said, it is incredibly brave of a story of this nature to broach such a topic and ultimately it could do a lot of good for those children and those parents ready to have these discussions. The issue is approached realistically in spite of the cartoon reindeer and doesn't mince words when dealing with the potential danger that comes with using illegal drugs. This book can prove to be a useful tool to instill important values in young children.

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