Speak Up!

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Sept. 2022. 272p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780063081208. pap. $13.99. ISBN 9780063081192. .
Gr 4-8–Mia learns how to speak up and allow her true self to emerge in this warm coming-of-age graphic novel. At 12 years old, Mia loves music. She likes to write poems and song lyrics, and her best friend, Charlie, shares her interests. Mia is also autistic, and sometimes fitting in is difficult. Her mother urges her to suppress particular behaviors, including stimming, in public. Even so, children in school make fun of her. Meanwhile, Laura and the other mean girls are all super excited about music videos from Elle-Q, an anonymous singer whose songs are going viral online. They don’t know that Elle-Q is really Mia, singing her lyrics to music Charlie has written for them. The opportunity to go live at a local talent show is in Mia and Charlie’s reach, but will Mia’s fear of being in the spotlight get in the way? While there is a lot going on in this story, it all comes together in a heartwarming conclusion. The artwork really pops, with expressive illustrations that spill over the panels and colors that brighten the page.
VERDICT A heartwarming and fun graphic novel, recommended where realistic fiction is popular.

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