*Chiggers — Recommended

Hope Larson tells the story of a girl’s stay at summer camp. Abby has been looking forward to returning and catching up with friends from the previous year. One of her friends promised they’d hang out together all the time, but she’s been made a Camp Assistant, and her duties leave her busier than expected. Another girl goes home early, infected with the bugs of the title. Then there’s Shasta, the new girl. She and Abby have lots of interests in common, but the other girls ostracize her. Abby’s torn between someone she likes and fitting in with the group.

Chiggers cover
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Also available in hardcover

The girls are all growing up at different rates, and Abby’s feeling left out because she’s not worried about whether boys are looking at her or giggling over rock band singers. (Yet older girls enjoy talking with her because she hasn’t yet discovered artifice and pretension.) All of the moments are realistic, with believable dialogue and an ear for how teens sound and feel. The girls’ behavior ranges from tentative outreach to dirty tricks, capturing a wide range of interactions.

Larson’s smoothly flowing style has been compared to “visual poetry”, and that lyrical feel continues here. Very few items (besides the panel borders and the bunk beds) are drawn with straight lines; everything’s wavy, which gives the book a natural feel suitable to the story setting, especially in scenes set outdoors. Her rain storms are palpable.

Larson makes the most of the comic medium by including symbolic panels — girls gossiping together are shown growing thorny vines out of their mouths, for example, or itchy scratching fills a panel to show how annoying the sound is to the listener. It’s beautiful visual thinking that reaches the reader emotionally.

There are a couple of fun extras included naturally in the story: how to play a card game and how to make a friendship bracelet. (You knot colored thread to make a braided band, which you tie around your wrist. You never take it off, until it falls off, and then you get to make a wish. I remember doing this in school, so I was thrilled to be reminded of the details.) Chiggers combines the best of Larson’s previous books — from Gray Horses, discovering friendship in a new place, and from Salamander Dream, growing up in a natural setting.

A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.

16 Responses to “*Chiggers — Recommended”

  1. Rivkah Says:

    This looks delightful!

  2. Out This Week (June 18) » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] (Simon & Schuster) — I loved it! Hope Larson’s best yet! And I love that the publisher knows their audience, putting out a hardcover (for the […]

  3. Heroes Con 2008 Report » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I put Liz Prince’s Delayed Replays over top of that part of the cover. I picked up the Chiggers hardcover from Hope Larson. Because it’s covered in paper, instead of sketching inside the […]

  4. More on Minx No More » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Larson, author of Chiggers, has some insightful statements, including how her life might have been different if her pitch to […]

  5. Seen at the Library » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] and Cecil Castellucci (The Plain Janes) and featuring short comic inserts by Hope Larson (Chiggers) and Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim). That’s my favorite part of going to the […]

  6. There Are Too Plenty of Comics for Kids! » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Chiggers […]

  7. *Mercury — Recommended » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] than the one before, from Salamander Dream (2005) to Gray Horses (2006) to 2008’s Chiggers and now Mercury. […]

  8. Making the World Better LinkBlogging » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] do you find out what girls want in comics? Try asking them! Author Hope Larson (Mercury, Chiggers) conducted an informal survey among her LiveJournal and Twitter followers, asking almost 200 girls […]

  9. Brain Camp » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] about summer camp have been popular for years in comics, perhaps to distract kids being sent off or to show those at […]

  10. Cr8zy4comics Says:

    this is an awesome book

  11. gr8 Reader Says:

    gr8 book i love Hope Larson. Abby Life is gr8 @ camp. Rose is a camp leader assistant. The new girl @ camp Shasta got struck by lighting and everybody hates her and calls her BS. Abbys 2 only real friends are Rose And Shasta. She likes Teal. SOME CUSS WORDS IN THIS BOOK BUT NOT THAT MANY

  12. Gloria Says:

    I was very dismayed when I purchased this title for the elementary school library. It was publicised as being a second-grade level reading book. There is a lot of inappropriate language and questionable scenarios. I think it is irrespsonbile for Bound-to-Stay-Bound books to market this book for children.

  13. Who Is AC? » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] done has made my recommended list, from last year’s A Wrinkle in Time through Mercury and Chiggers to her early Gray Horses and Salamander Dream. Here, she’s writing a magical girl story for […]

  14. Hope Larson’s Bitter Orange Now Available Online » DVDs Worth Watching Says:

    […] impressively talented artist Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time, Chiggers) is demonstrating a new ability. Last year, she wrote and directed her first short film, Bitter […]

  15. Pondering Previews for May 2014 (Shipping July and Later) » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I really like all of Hope Larson’s work, and what better time than summer to revisit this story of girls at camp? […]

  16. Hope Larson’s New Webcomic Solo » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Larson, author of such outstanding graphic novels as Mercury and Chiggers, has quietly launched a new webcomic, Solo. (Not for kids — strong language appears in the […]




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