Thursday, August 30, 2012

Drama, by Raina Telgemeier - perfect tween story (10-14)

One of the most popular books at our school is Smile, a graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier, telling her story of going through middle school with braces and full-on dental drama. Kids adore the art, the realistic story and the heart in this graphic novel - they relate to Raina's struggles with friends and her dental drama. The kids I know are super-excited that her new book Drama is now available! It is a perfect tween story - filled with middle school angst, friendships and crushes.
by Raina Telgemeier
NY: Graphix / Scholastic, 2012
ages 10 - 14
available from your local bookstore and on Amazon
Callie LOVES being part of her school's drama productions - having fun with friends and working on great productions together. Seventh grade is full of ups and downs for Callie. She's got a huge crush on popular eighth-grader Greg and can't believe he kisses her. But the next day, Callie is devastated when he ignores her and returns to his stuck-up girlfriend, the ever-popular Bonnie. The drama continues as tryouts proceed for the school's production of Moon Over Mississippi. Callie decides that stage crew is definitely the best place for her, and she's determined to make the best set design possible. But life is never simple in middle school. Drama always finds its way in!

Here's a great book trailer to get a sense of the story and Telgemeier's style:

Kids will relate to Callie's vulnerabilities, but they're also going to connect to her resilience - how her solid friendships keep her grounded and strong. Callie becomes good friends with Justin and Jesse, twins who have both joined the drama production. Early on in the story, Justin confides in Callie that he is gay. Telgemeier handles this with pitch-perfect sensitivity for tweens, showing Callie and Justin's emotions through this scene. I love how natural their conversation sounds and their expressions look - tentative and uncertain at first, then trusting and supportive.

Telgemeier's artwork draws kids in. She shows the characters' emotions, focusing close in on  reactions different characters have. Tweens are acutely aware of social situations and how they feel, as their emotions zoom up and down. They love the way that Telgemeier captures this drama in her artwork, feeling that she is capturing their own emotional reactions to their own school drama.
Through it all, this book made me smile. I love the way Telgemeier captures so much of the struggle of middle school - trying to figure out who your real friends are, who you like, what you want to do. I know the 5th graders at my school will really like this, as they venture into the world of crushes and girl-boy drama. And all of the middle school students I've shared it with have given it rave reviews.

Want to learn more about Raina Telgemeier and Drama? I loved this review in the New York Times. Check out this interview on the NerdyBookClub. I also love this advice she has for kids who want to create comics: 5 Things To Know About Cartooning.

The review copy was sent by the publishers, Graphix / Scholastic. I've already bought several copies for friends! If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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