Title: Ella at Eden: Camp Midnight
Author: Laura Sieveking
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: 1st April 2021
Synopsis: The girls from Eden College are going on a camping trip to Mount Midnight National Park. Ella is nervous but excited about camping in a tent in the middle of the bush. But after some confusion with the groups, Ella and her friends become lost in the National Park. Can they survive the wilderness and get back to their class?
Ella is off to camp with the rest of year seven. She’s nervous and excited and hopes she will be in the same group as her friends Zoe, Grace, and Violet. But when Saskia and recedes hatch a plan to make sure they’re not separated, Ella finds herself separated from the group and stuck with Saskia, Mercedes, and Grace without a ranger to help them find their way to the base camp. So, it is up to the girls to band together and use whatever they have on hand and the wilderness skills they’ve been learning, as well as teamwork and cooperation to make sure they get back to their class and teacher.
The fourth Ella at Eden book is filled with the same fun characters as the previous three, and captures the uncertainty of new experiences for middle grade readers, and the simplicity and uniqueness of the Australian bush, what it represents and what people can experience whilst in the bush, such as encountering various kinds of wildlife, and the way different people react to different situations and the wide array of knowledge that people have, and inventive ways the girls use their collective skills and knowledge.
Ella, Grace, Mercedes, and Saskia’s adventure see them butt heads and argue as at least three of them try to work together to figure out what to do, and how to get back. This celebration of teamwork and new friends, as well as finding out what one is capable of is wonderfully written for ages ten and older, and is a lovely exploration of friendship, teamwork and discovering new strengths that show the girls what they can do, and how much they should value each other, even if they don’t really like each other.
This delightful series gets better with each book, as Ella goes through various experiences every book, and engages with the readers and the characters around her. Actions are often met with consequences, showing that there is always something new to be learnt in life and bad behaviour will always be met with consequences – and an acceptance of responsibility for actions, and sharing the blame for errors that see things go pear-shaped.
I’ve been reading the Ella at Eden series since they started coming out last year and can’t wait for the next one to find out what happens next. This series explores friendship, Ella’s love of words and reading, and making new friends and finding out new things about each other – maybe finding ways to be friends with people like Saskia. Yet there is also wonderful sense of growth and finding out what you can do when alone in a situation without an adult or close friends to help. This is wonderful for all readers, even adult readers as it reassures us that it is okay to be scared and uncertain, and that there will always be a way to work through these fears.
Looking forward to the next Ella at Eden book!