Thursday, August 02, 2012

Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

Anyone who works with tweens and middle schoolers can tell you that life is often fraught with drama.  Capital "D" drama.  And while I was never a theater kid,  Raina Telgemeier's latest graphic novel lets us in on some middle school theater kids who get an extra dose!

Callie loves theater.  She is not the leading lady type, however.  She prefers things back stage in the set department, which is where she will be working on her school's latest production; Moon Over Mississippi.  She is busy putting up casting posters when she runs into twins Justin and Jesse.  Justin is all about musical theater, while Jesse is a bit more on the shy side.

Even though Callie has been crushing on her friend Matt's big brother Greg, Jesse sets off a spark in Callie.  Before long she is hanging out with Justin and Jesse and she discovers that Jesse is just as talented as his brother.  She also discovers that Justin is gay.  He's not super out, but it's not too hard to figure out if you pay attention.

Callie has set her sights on Jesse, but between the business of the musical, Greg's dipping into the picture, and Justin always being around, it feels like Jesse will never get the hint to invite her to the 8th grade formal.  Once he finally gets to it, in true middle school dance fashion, it all hits the fan and many truths are revealed.

The beauty of Telgemeier's storytelling is that it's incredibly spot on.  Each and every character is fully developed and believable.  Readers will be rooting for and groaning at Callie in turn, and even if theater is the farthest thing from their reality, readers will know these kids.  Relationships are everything in middle school, and Telgemeier gets that.

The art is signature, and since my copy is an arc, I cannot wait to see the finished product in full color.  From the movement created by simple wonky eyes to the flop as Callie pours over a theater book she loves complete with air heart, the line is never crossed into caricatures. It is worth noting too, that the cast of characters is multicultural as well.

Drama should be in every school and public library, and preferably in multiple copies.  This is a graphic novel that is sure to be every bit as well loved as the author's previous title Smile.

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