Mysteries, mazes, and magic combine in this smart, funny summer-camp fantasy -- like THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY for kids!
Dahlia Shulman loves magic, and Math Club, and Guitar Hero. She isn't so fond of nature walks, and Hebrew campfire songs, and mean girls her own age.
All of which makes a week at Jewish summer camp pretty much the worst idea ever.
But within minutes of arriving at camp, Dahlia realizes that it might not be as bad as she'd feared. First she sees two little girls walk right through the walls of her cabin. Then come the dreams -- frighteningly detailed visions of a young man being pursued through 1930s New York City. How are the dreams and the girls related? Why is Dahlia the only one who can see any of them? And what's up with the overgrown, strangely shaped hedge maze that none of the campers are allowed to touch? Dahlia's increasingly dangerous quest for answers will lead her right to the center of the maze -- but it will take all her courage, smarts, and sleight-of-hand skills to get her back out again.
Goelman infuses the familiar summer camp setting and its attendant ghost stories with elements of Jewish mysticism in this intriguing and layered first novel. Stubborn and whip-smart Dahlia Sherman, 13, longs to attend magic camp instead of Jewish sleepaway camp, but her parents are adamant that she give Camp Arava a chance. Once there, Dahlia's fondness for sleight-of-hand magic tricks is quickly trumped by her awareness that truly uncanny forces are at work around her. She encounters a mysterious caretaker and ghosts of small girls that only she can see, and she inexplicably begins to possess knowledge of Hebrew and of a clandestine mystical sect from the past. Dahlia's experiences at camp are both socially and psychologically transformative, as she forms significant friendships with those who help her unravel the camp's secrets. The complex magical elements, especially in chapters that flash back more than 70 years into the life of a talented rabbi, offer a captivating overview of Jewish intellectual history (with some artistic license) while Dahlia's story delivers authentic chills and a touch of romance. Ages 10 14.