FICTION

Drama

illus. by author. 238p. bibliog. CIP. Scholastic Graphix. 2012. Tr $23.99. ISBN 978-0-545-32698-8; pap. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-545-32699-5. LC 2011040748.
COPY ISBN
RedReviewStarGr 5–8—Callie has ambitious plans for her school's production of Moon Over Mississippi. She has more to contend with than the logistics of building a working stage cannon, though, including the tension between stage crew and actors and her confusion about her new friend, Jesse. Does he like her, or is he gay like his twin brother? Telgemeier deftly portrays the ambiguity of sexual identity in the middle-school years in a story that simultaneously appeals to that audience. Callie is a strong character, confident in her ability as an artist and warm and friendly to her peers. She and her fellow students grin frequently, to the point of seeming unrealistically well adjusted. More often, however, Telgemeier is just showing the best side of teens. "Keep it professional," the stage crew head tells the group, and they do. The full-color cartoon-style illustrations are graceful, assured, and, along with the twists and turns of the plot, guarantee an entertaining and enlightening read.—Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
Like Telgemeier’s previous graphic novel, Smile (a 2010 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book), this new one will appeal to a wide range of readers. Seventh-grader Callie Marin loves musical theater, and though she isn’t much of a singer (which she good-naturedly proves to all in a hilarious scene), she expresses and fulfills her passion by working as a set designer for the school drama club. Her second year on stage crew turns out to be fraught with drama, on and off the set. Not only is the musical a love story, but in real life Callie has a crush on eighth-grader Greg, whose younger brother (and fellow stage-crew member) has a secret crush on Callie. Greg, however, is dating Bonnie, who dumps him for her costar in the play, West, who eventually dumps her for the boy whom Callie has just begun to like. Then Greg asks Callie out. Phew! But Telgemeier handles it all with aplomb and, despite the romantic drama, nothing happens beyond a few innocent kisses. She gets her middle-school characters just right -- from kids who, like Justin, are gay and know it ("Gay? You can say it! I don’t mind") to those who, like Callie, wouldn’t recognize a gay guy if he clasped his hands and squee-ed over musical auditions, as Justin does when they first meet. As in Smile, Telgemeier’s graphic artist skills make this novel a pleasure to read and re-read; of special note is her thoughtful use of the page turn -- for surprise, for a pause, for emotional effect. jennifer m. brabander

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