Note from Eden: My friend Molly is a huge Raina Telgemeier fan, so when her father, Dan, told me they had found an advance reader copy of Sisters (Scholastic/Graphix, 2014) in a charity shop and Molly wanted to review it, I asked if I could post it when it was done.
They kindly said yes. I was delighted. It’s truly better than anything I would write about it and Molly even made a video!
Raina Telgemeier’s new book, Sisters, is truly extraordinary, great and awesome. It tells the reader another story from Raina’s past. Raina always wanted a sister, but when she finally got her wish it was not as nice as she thought it would be. Raina and her sister, Amara, were very different and liked different things, which made things difficult between them at some points. Raina had wanted someone to play with, while Amara was the kind of girl who wanted to play by herself a lot. But they both loved drawing. Most of the story is about the family’s road trip and has several flashbacks.
The story kinda reminds me of me and my brothers. One of brothers and I do not get along that well and fight a lot (like Raina and Amara). One of my other brothers thinks that I steal the spotlight all the time, just like Amara accuses Raina. My brothers say things sometimes to get on my nerves, so reading this book kind of reminded me of me and them.
If you read Raina Telgemeier’s new book, you are going to love it. At the end you might still have some questions left about this or that, but you will still love it. I am a fan myself so you can trust me, Molly.
Buy Raina Telgemeier’s new book, Sisters! Coming soon.
Molly, 11, lives in Virginia with her brothers and parents. She likes to draw and make comics.
Theater is a strange life. Like many forms of art, it tends to attract people who don’t quite fit in elsewhere. For everyone I know involved in theater, this started early. It’s something they fell into and never fell back out of. It’s their passion. It’s their life. Even if they end up doing something else, they never quite leave it behind.
Our cute, purple-haired protagonist, Callie, has found her passion early. She loves theater — but refreshingly, her heart is backstage. It’s great to see a young girl character in a story about theater that isn’t interested in being on stage. She’s too busy making big plans for her set design and puzzling out special effects. She’s not toiling away in obscurity waiting to be discovered; instead, she knows exactly what she wants to be doing and does it well. She has her moments of self-doubt and confusion (usually involving her relationships with boys!) but her confidence in herself is delightful.
I loved the realism of Callie’s relationships with the boys in her life — her initial boldness with Greg and her tentative affection toward Jesse as well as her playful and sweet friendship with Justin. Equally great is how she relates to the girls in the book — while there is a bit of conflict with her best friend Liz, they’re clearly best friends. Even Bonnie, who’d be a “mean girl” in another book isn’t presented to be that much of a threat but just someone who runs in a different social circle.
I don’t think Telgemeier’s art has ever been stronger. She seems to have pulled in a few more manga-inspired touches — big, expressive eyes and exaggerated facial expressions. As sharp and perceptive as her writing always is, much of the joy of this book is in the silent panels. Her ability to communicate complex emotions, from Callie’s joy, concentration and worry, and quiet moments with deceptively simple lines is unrivaled. Telgemeier makes comics look so effortless.
While my advance reader copy was mostly in black and white, the few pages of color by Gurihiru that I did get went far to set the mood of this book. I can’t wait to see the whole thing in color.
Perhaps the greatest joy of Drama is how perceptive an eye and ear Telgemeier has for kids of this age. She never talks down to them. One of my major complaints about a lot of middle grade and young adult novels is that the characters seem to act like an adult’s conception of what kids and teens should be like rather than how they actually are. In some ways, Callie and her friends may seem a bit older than their 12 and 13 years, but in other ways, they’re exactly how I remember being at that age, just with more computers and text messages. You don’t realize how young you are: you end up being a strange mix of innocent and perceptive, smart and awkward. These are kids figuring out who they want to be and that’s something that’s easy to relate to at any age.
And to me, that’s the greatest takeaway of Drama: how much of myself, even now, I saw in it. I’d love to tell Callie and the kids her age reading about her that these things get easier — that boys stop being confusing and that everything goes the way you want. But I can’t. What I can say, though, is that if you believe in and admire Callie, you’ll have a pretty good head start on the rest of us.
Admittedly, I have no read the other books in Kazi Kibuishi‘s Amulet series (well, I haven’t read them yet. It hasn’t been due to a lack of interest as it is due to “too many other comics and not enough time”), Amulet Book Four: The Last Council (Scholastic, 2011) has me hooked.
Despite having little familiarity with the story, it felt very easy to pick up the plot. Kibuishi doesn’t spend much time explaining things, but the characters and motivations are instantly clear through the strength of his storytelling. It’s perfectly fine being thrown right into the action — the story moves so quickly there’s not much time to be lost.
Kibuishi’s simple, strong lines for his characters give them a distinctive and clear charm. He draws their emotions plainly on their faces and communicates as much through composition and wordless panels as he does through dialogue. There’s a real sense of movement in these pages, and his experiences as an animator definitely give this book a cinematic quality. Large, scene-setting shots of cities or landscapes are given weight, as are close-ups on our lead characters. Color adds to the effect — strong blues provide watery shadows as our lead Emily makes her escape from peril and warm gold tones fill the outside spaces of Cielis.
While it’s a story about a world in peril with many international conspiracies, it’s also clearly a story about a girl discovering who she is. I love the strength of Emily’s relationship with her family and her bravery despite the odds she faces and the doubt she has about what she’s doing. Although I’ve only seen her in action in this book, I admire her progress and I think I’ll enjoy where she’ll end up.
The sci-fi-meets-fantasy setting is beautiful and evokes everything from Star Wars to various role-playing games. There are space ships but there’s also elves. The everything-goes aesthetic gives Kibuishi plenty of room to play — characters are everyone from the fox-faced Leon to a couple of robots (one of which looks a lot like a toy rabbit). It always feels fresh and fun and nothing feels out of place. Rather, the openness of this world gives the book its strength. The complexity and completeness of Kibuishi’s world makes it feel lived-in and familiar.
Clearly, I’m going to go read the other three parts and eagerly await the fifth. I need to know what happened before, yes, but I absolutely need to know what happens next.
So here’s the fun part.
Scholastic Inc. is offering five copies of Amulet Book Four: The Last Council (prize is valued is $10.99 per book) for me to give away. I am going to make this easy. You can watch the book’s trailer below (which is awesome and will make wish they would make a beautiful animated big-screen version of these books), read the synopsis and tell me why you want to read this book in the comments. Or just leave a fairly relevant comment. (Please leave a valid email address so I can contact you.) On Sunday evening (Sept. 25, 9 p.m. EDT), I will pick five winners at random (if more than five people comment) and let you know.
Come on, it’s a chance at a free book! What do you have to lose?
Kazu Kibuishi’s thrilling, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling series continues!
Emily and her friends think they’ll find the help they need in Cielis, but something isn’t right. Streets that were once busy are deserted, and the townspeople who are left live in fear. Emily is soon escorted to the Academy, where she’s expected to compete for a spot on the Guardian Coucil, a group of the most powerful Stonekeepers. But as the number of competitors gets smaller and smaller, an awful secret is slowly uncovered – a secret that, if left buried, means the certain destruction of everything Emily fights for.
Speaking of Sunday, Kazu Kibuishi will be at the National Book Festival on the National Mall. He’ll be speaking at 1:55 p.m. and signing books from 4 to 5 p.m. I will be there, at the very least, for his talk. There’s also some other interesting comics/graphic novel-related programming on Sunday that I will likely stick around for.