Thursday, June 30, 2016

Graphic Novel Review: "Awkward" by Svetlana Chmakova

Penelope ("Peppi") Torres is the new girl at school.  On the very first day, she drops all of her books in front of everyone.  They all start to laugh at her, but one boy stops to help her.  She is grateful, until the mean kids start picking on him for being a nerd, and then Peppi too - just by association.  She does something then that she regrets instantly, but doesn't know how to make it right.  Later, Peppi gets involved with the Art Club, which has a long-standing rivalry with the Science Club.  And who's in the Science Club?  Yep, the boy.  So awkward.

This really is an adorable middle grade graphic novel all about just how awkward it is to be in middle school.  Everything between Peppi and the boy (whose name is Jaime, by the way) is not romantic, or anything like that really.  It is all awkward because life just is awkward right then.

When thinking about what I wanted to say about this book, I first thought I'd comment on how "effortlessly" diverse the cast of characters is but I don't know if that is truly correct to say.  I have no idea how "effortless" it was on the part of the author and illustrator to write a diverse cast, but I do know that it felt effortless to read it.  By that, I mean that it doesn't feel forced or cliche...  just normal.  And I think that is in itself, awesome.  The art in this book is pretty cool too.  There is some wonderful manga inspiration going on in these panels.  In the endpages, the author also includes a few pages on how she illustrates - step by step - with a sketch gallery of the characters and a couple settings.  This will be of great interest to the budding young middle grade artists who might read this.  Also - there are twenty hidden "Mr. Raccoon"s hidden throughout the book.  Have fun with that!

by Svetlana Chmakova
Yen Press/Hachette, 2015
211 pages
Source:  Library


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