Making Friends

illus. by Kristen Gudsnuk. 272p. Scholastic/Graphix. Jul. 2018. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781338139228; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781338139211.
OrangeReviewStarGr 4–7—While her family bickers over who gets what from their late matriarch's belongings, 12-year-old Dany comes into possession of her grandmother's sketchbook. Dany draws the portrait of a prince from her favorite anime series into the notebook, and, to her surprise, the character's head comes off the page and starts giving life advice. Dany decides to draw herself a best friend, whom she names Madison, to help mitigate the horrors of middle school. Unfortunately, not only does Madison resent Dany for her seemingly frivolous existence but the prince's cruel advice might not be what Dany is looking for. This brief volume accomplishes a hefty amount of storytelling as Dany uses magic to avoid uncomfortable situations but must contend with unintended consequences. She struggles with loneliness at school, bullies, and her dysfunctional family while simultaneously working out her relationship with Madison, all rendered in a visual style taken right out of a Cartoon Network show. The supernatural elements blend seamlessly with the everyday situations. Toward the end, the title references "magical girl" media (a manga and anime genre), making it a likely hit with reluctant readers and fans of these works.
VERDICT Making Friends is the Scott Pilgrim for the tweenage set, perfect for any younger readers' graphic novel collection.

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