Book Review: Drama

Image found at author's website - all rights reserved to same.

Image found at author’s website – all rights reserved to same.

Title: Drama

Author: Raina Telgemeier

Genre: YA fiction

Format: Graphic novel

Publisher: Scholastic

Length: 233 pages

Library: Green Tree Public Library

Challenge: 2013 Graphic Novel Challenge, children’s category


Summary: A 6th-grader navigates the politics of her school’s drama club and the interesting boys she meets there.


It’s hard to be objective about a book when you’re overwhelmed by its cute factor. If this book were a baby or a kitten, most people–except those who recoil from babies and kittens–would pick it up, chuck it under the chin and tell it how adorable it is. Telgemeier delivers a sweet story about middle school crushes and budding self-confidence in the delightful context of a school drama club putting on its yearly musical, framed by a clever opener in which the story itself is set up as if it were a play.

Our heroine is Callie, a spunky, stripey-haired sixth-grader who has a passion for both set design and her friend Greg. Greg, however, is hung up on Bonnie, which frustrates Callie to no end since, from her point of view, Bonnie is self-centered and selfish. However, in the joy of planning for the spring musical, Callie is able to put her woes on the back burner in favor of good times with her group of pleasingly diverse friends, including her bestie, Liz. And when new drama club members, in the form of cute twin brothers, enter the scene, Callie suddenly has much more interesting things to think about (including how to make a cannon explode properly).

Telgemeier’s narrative is fun, cheerful, and upbeat, focusing heavily on the joys of putting on a play and negotiating friendships. The romance plots, while sometimes challenging for Callie, are opportunities for her to learn, grow, and be a better friend; the story has an innocence and freshness that are really appealing in a tween landscape saturated with Gossip Girl and other mean-queen-bee stories. That being said, it’s mature enough that tween readers, who are most likely going through the same sorts of experiences Callie is, won’t feel as if they’ve been given a story that’s “lesser” or “dumbed-down.” Readers will also learn a lot about the hard work and unseen steps that go into putting on a musical, and it’s all drawn and colored in wide, open, round, friendly shapes and hues. The coloring, especially–by Gurihiru–is so warm and inviting that you could spend plenty of time just staring at the pages, even after you’ve read the text.

Best of all, in this reviewer’s opinion, Callie gets herself a happy ending that doesn’t depend on winning the affections of one particular boy, but also without turning her back on the world of boys altogether. We get the sense, as she gears up for seventh grade and its adventures, that she’ll be able to handle them with confidence, style, and the love of a whole theater community. And that’s something readers of all ages can celebrate, whether they’d rather be onstage, backstage, or sitting in the audience.

Recommended for: Tweens, their parents, anybody who appreciates good coloring in graphic novels, theater geeks of all ages, comic newbies, and anybody who would enjoy a fun, lighthearted story.


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