What are you reading? Monday, April 27, 2015

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Callie loves the theater, even if she can’t sing well enough to try out for her school musical, “Moon over Misissippi.” Instead, she becomes the set designer for the drama department stage crew, with some great ideas for set pieces.

But when drama and romance—both onstage and off—cause problems, Callie finds that set design may be the easiest part of putting on a play.  Callie is likable, hardworking, and enthusiastic, but she is as confused about relationships and love as any young teen, and she flits from crush to crush in a believable fashion.

Drama is clearly teen oriented.  Telgemeier tells a cheerful story with realistic portrayals of middle-school characters. Nonactors will love having the spotlight shine on the backstage action, but even those who shun the stage altogether will identify with this roller-coaster ride through young teen emotions. Telgemeier addresses issues such as homosexuality simply and without over-the-top fanfare.

Her deceptively simple art is similar to “Archie” comics, but it is grounded in a firm sense of style and washed in warm colors to give the story an open, welcoming feel. I especially enjoyed how she used theatrical details like “Act 2” and an Intermission curtain part way through the story.  This realistic and sympathetic story reveals Telgemeier’s keen eye for young teen life.

Yaqui by Meg MedinaYaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award

This excellent novel features Piedad “Piddy” Sanchez, a Latina girl who does well in school, thanks to her determination to get into a good school and the support of her single mother.  When Piddy transfers to a new school and hears that Yaqui Delgado plans to beat her up, she has no idea why she has become a target of a bully.  The mysterious Yaqui has decided that Piddy is stuck up, shakes her booty too much, and has eyes for her boyfriend.  Piddy wouldn’t know Yaqui’s boyfriend if she fell over him, but that is beside the point.

Piddy comes to life in this story, and it feels like you know her.  Medina’s excellent use of Spanish interspersed in the dialogue helps to build not only the atmosphere, but the characters of her mother and the sassy Lila, her mother’s best friend.

Bullying is a very serious topic, and this book stands head and shoulders above others.  Even though the subject matter is rather grim, there are some lighter points. The ending was very honest and realistic.  A pleasant and fast read; classic bullying/coming of age/cultural confusion girl novel. Good selection for middle and lower high school age students.

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