Drama - Review

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Written and Illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Publication date: 1 Sept 2012 by GRAPHIX
ISBN 10/13:  0545326990 | 9780545326995

Category: Middle Grade Graphic Novel
Keywords: Musical Theatre, Middle School, Contemporary, Homosexuality, Crushes
Format: Hardcover and Paperback
Source: ARC from ALA/Scholastic Brunch

5 stars - Stay up all night


Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school's production of Moon Over Mississippi, she's a terrible singer. Instead she's the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she's determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn't know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen, and when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier! Following the success of SMILE, Raina Telgemeier brings us another graphic novel featuring a diverse set of characters that humorously explores friendship, crushes, and all-around drama!

Alethea's Review:

You might not have to stay up all night--it's a short book. But especially if you ever
a) had a crush
b) were a theatre geek
c) had a fight with a friend
d) all of the above
you will definitely want to pick up Drama.

Not one but two sets of brothers and the lurrrve-connections they make (and mostly break) provide a lot of the romantic intrigue for this middle-grade graphic novel. Filled with gossip, problem-solving, and friendship troubles, Drama balances conflict with colorful characters and good humor. I laughed out loud a few times and was also reminded of my younger self. Then I was sad because I googled Moon over Mississippi hoping it was an actual play I had somehow, in 30 years of being a huge musical theatre fan, overlooked. Mwomp-womp. No such thing.

I love the storytelling in graphic novel format. Telgemeier's characters are cute, believable, and current. It's one thing to read an older book such as A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, or a period piece like When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (incidentally about the former book) and spot the differences and similarities between kids from the past (who are, shocker! adults now) and yourself.

I think it's so important to show kids that there is more to reading than what we call, in Tagalog, kopong-kopong--a long, long time ago--that there are adults who write and understand what they might be thinking and feeling today. This can then help bridge the gap to older books that might not have interested them before, and help them relate to certain things that don't seem to change that much over time: tiffs between best friends, crushing on someone or other, and dealing with embarrassing, sometimes socially-crippling drama. If I had to give Raina a grade on that, I'd give her an A+. And then shake her for reminding me how totally awkward I was in middle school D: *cringe*

Another thing I think Drama does well is treat homosexuality as what I feel like modern kids and parents need to see it as. NO BIG DEAL. Some people are, some people aren't, and that's OK. It's not the central focus of this book, but I do think it needs to be pointed out in reviews if only so educators and librarians who recommend this (and might encounter a parent who thinks that treating a gay teen like a normal human being is, somehow, objectionable) can be careful who they hand this book to. I'm sad that it still has to be this way in an age that supposedly is so enlightened.

All in all, I thought it was hilarious and adorable. Callie's a character I'd like to see again, even if the plays her school puts on are fictional. If you've got an hour to spare, it'll be well spent with Drama and a nice cold bubble tea.

Tweet @frootjoos

You can find the author at www.goraina.com and follow her on Twitter @goraina.

Alethea also recommends Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge (for slightly older kids and teens) and Smile by Raina Telgemeier (for slightly younger kids).