Although my older girls and I all enjoyed Julie Sternberg’s Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, it didn’t have a lot that I felt my kiddos could personally relate to. Eleanor is an only child living in an apartment building in Brooklyn; my girls are the older two of four children, and we live in a house in a suburb of Salt Lake City. Eleanor is losing her daily babysitter, as both her parents work outside the home; I’m a stay-at-home mom who tends to leave my kiddos with family or friends when the need arises. The book was still a pleasure, but I didn’t actually see any of us in it.
Not so with its immediate sequel, my friends. In Like Bug Juice on a Burger, Eleanor heads off to summer camp for the first time–and proceeds to do a stellar imitation of my seven-year-old. She’s homesick for her parents and misses the way they do things; she limits herself to the foods she recognizes and likes, which aren’t exactly legion; she’s not a strong swimmer and ends up in a lower class than any of her cabin mates; need I go on? It was eerie. I am, however, thrilled to be able to pass it on to my only timid girlie. Learning from others’ experiences can only make our lives easier, right? I can only hope that reading about Eleanor’s struggles to cope and adjust will be enlightening for my daughter.
Note: Bug Juice has a real ending, not a storybook one, which only makes it more perfect.