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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Drama (the sequel to Raina Telgemeier's graphic novel Smile)

Telgemeier, Raina (2012) Drama. New York: Scholastic.

Raina Telgemeier's first graphic novel, Smile, told the semi-autobiographical story of a girl dealing with braces and learning what friendship is and isn't.  It is an engrossing story that has stood up to multiple readings by my fourth grade daughter. 
     The sequel, Drama is aptly named.  It is a story of a bunch of middle school kids putting on a musical and finding out how they fit in and are useful to that drama production.  It is also the story of the drama of middle school as boys and girls break up, get together, flirt, dream, are trapped in love triangles, and ultimately find far more drama than resolution. 
     The artistic style of this thing (see above) is certainly very well done.  The colors and images are not only engaging, but engrossing.  Fair warning, there is a gay character which may cause parental challenges in some middle schools. 
      And in the end, I feel conflicted.  The story is certainly interesting, and my daughters seemed to enjoy reading it, so it may be an excellent way to get kids reading.  In the end, though, my English teacher self was not particularly satisfied.  The book really is just drama.  None of the characters changes much.  In the end, it is kind of like a soap opera.  Relationships rise and fall, dramatic things happen, but in the end, we are kind of back where we started.  I guess I loved Smile because the main character escaped her unkind friends and found a safe haven of new friendships.  Drama isn't really like that.  Many of your students will love it, though.  Best for middle school readers.

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