Darby, Delaney and Dawn are having a devil of a time.
The smart, spunky triplets have been dispatched to the campground at Lake Lewis with their aunt for three weeks’ worth of outdoor fun. But so far, Dawn has been dunked in creek water and been bitten by fire ants. Even worse, the triplets may have met their camping match — a trio of brothers every bit as competitive as they are.
So begins “Revenge of the Happy Campers” (Scholastic, $16.99), Austinite Jennifer Ziegler’s third volume in the Brewster triplet series. The girls solved their older sister’s wedding woes in “Revenge of the Flower Girls” and survived the school Christmas pageant in “Revenge of the Angels.”
Now the Brewster girls want to help their aunt cheer up and maybe even boost attendance at the once-booming campground retreat — in addition to establishing their primacy over Robbie, Jay and Nelson.
“We’re just out cherishing the natural wonders, like Theodore Roosevelt said to do,” Jay explains to Dawn when they find her napping on the trail.
“He was our twenty-sixth president of the United States,” Nelson said.
“I made a sound that was similar to a roar and jumped to my feet, Dawn fumes. ‘No. Oh no. You did not just tell me who Teddy Roosevelt was! … Guess what? We know all kinds of stuff. Tons of it. We can name all fifty states and their capitals in alphabetical order. We can name all of the U.S. presidents and vice presidents in chronological order. We can recite all the Constitutional amendments and the Gettysburg Address by heart.’”
Ziegler’s young democratic-process aficionados are as appealing as ever, brimming with confidence and problem-solving savvy. They’re empathetic enough to notice that their aunt is saddened by the state of the campground she remembers visiting each summer with the triplets’ mother.
And they’re also “almost 12,” which means there are hints of tween-appropriate realizations that these boys could be more than just foes to vanquish: Delaney finds herself appreciating how Robbie perks up when he talks about his dad’s skill in the kitchen. And when he admits that he likes Delaney’s laugh (“It’s bouncy. Like you.”), she finds herself reacting in an unexpected way: “For some reason, this made my face go tingly. I laughed some more and listened to myself, trying to hear what he heard.”
“Campers” is very much like the triplets themselves — full of real-world adventures, both wise and witty. (Ages 8-12)
Buckle up for May 15, when Fierce Reads rolls into town — a quartet of young adult writers curated by publishing house Macmillan.
A mix of established and debut authors, the panel includes New York Times best-selling author Scott Westerfeld, creator of the “Uglies” and “Leviathan” series. Westerfeld is on tour to promote the first volume in a new graphic novel series, illustrated by Alex Puvilland: “Spill Zone” (Macmillan, $22.99), which finds young Addison Merrick breaking her own post-apocalyptic survival rules in order to provide for her younger sister.
Westerfeld will be joined by Taran Matharu, who first rose to prominence with “The Novice,” posted in sections on Wattpad (think YouTube for books). His online readership mushroomed fast enough to snag him a publishing contract for more books in what became the “Summoners” fantasy series; the first two books became New York Times best-sellers. The third and final volume, “The Battlemage” (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, $18.99), publishes just before the Fierce Reads event.
Two secret-identity tales threaded with romance augment the panel: Erin Beaty’s “The Traitor’s Kiss” (Macmillan, $18.99), centered on intrigue at court that could tip a kingdom’s balance of power, and Kristen Orlando’s debut “You Don’t Know My Name” (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, $16.99), in which 17-year-old Reagan’s future as an elite spy is threatened by her relationship with boy-next-door Luke. Chosen as the first Swoon Reads title by readers, “Know” also is the first in a planned trilogy.
Fierce Reads kicks off at 7 p.m. May 15 at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. Visit bookpeople.com/event for more details.
Lemony Snicket returns
“Goldfish Ghost” (Roaring Brook, $17.99) hovers unseen above his former bowl, hunting for a friend in this new picture book from Lemony Snicket and illustrator Lisa Brown. With the trademark melancholy well-known to fans of Snicket’s classic “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Ghost” explores the undeniable need for compatriots, even in the afterlife. Snicket and Brown will be in Austin at 6 p.m. May 4 at BookPeople. (Ages 3-7)