Saturday, October 19, 2019

Cartoon Saturday- Junior High Drama

Simonson, Louise and Mason, Jane B. Junior High Drama
February 1st 2019 by Stone Arch Books
Public Library Copy

Memorial Middle School is fraught with drama. In this collection of four separate titles, we meet a variety of characters who are all struggling. Kamilla loves to sing but doesn't want to try out for the school play because that would mean that people would look at her, and she is extremely insecure about her weight and appearance despite hearing positive messages from the adults in her life. She consults a doctor, who wants her to exercise more so that she is healthy, and she accepts the role of understudy in the play. She sees the boy on whom she has a crush also running at the school track, and the two strike up a friendship. When the two main leads have a conflict with performing in the play because of a cheer leading competition, Kamilla reluctantly steps in to save the day. In another story, Lilly gets drawn into a group of popular girls because one of them is interested in Lilly's older brother, and Lilly tries to dress like them, act like them, and treat others the way they do, which causes her problems with her friends. Of course, in the end, the mean girls turn on her, but Lilly is able to stand up for herself. Allie is a track runner who finds herself struggling, and the cause turns out to be diabetes, which takes a while for her to manage properly, especially since she is hiding it from her friends. In the last story, Lucia gets invited to a party and is reluctant to go, but when a boy she likes is also attending, she decides to go, despite the drama.

This is a large format graphic novel, and in paperback is a decent price ($14.95 from Titlewave). It is also available in separate hard cover editions for $20 each.

Strengths: This is on trend with social issues and involves a cast with various ethnicities, interests, and body types. The stories are fairly standard, but each is followed up by an "interview" the main character does with an adult about the issue faced, and resources are listed. This would be a great read alike for Raina Telgemeier or Victoria Jamieson-- graphic novels with deeper issues. I especially liked Allie's story concerning diabetes, even if it had a Deenie-with-Scoliosis approach to the issue.
Weaknesses: I am always reluctant to stock books like Frazzled that portray middle school as a roiling, anxious pool of mean-- wouldn't reading this make students MORE anxious? Current theory wants to model various negative experiences for students so they don't feel that they are the only ones going through them, and woe befall anyone who disagrees with this method.
What I really think: Will purchase this as part of my graphic novel refresh, but feel I need to have a follow up conversation with anyone who reads it to see if their anxiety has spiked.

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