Saturday, December 29, 2018

Review: Junior High Drama by Louise Simonson and Jane B. Mason

by Louise Simonson and
Jane B. Mason
Illustrated by Sumin Cho
Stone Arch Books
Middle Grade Graphic Novel
256 pages

Welcome to Memorial Middle School, where drama fills the classrooms and follows students home on the bus. Social awkwardness. Mean girls. Hallway gossip. It's all part of life in junior high, but maybe it helps to know you aren't alone. Can Lucia avoid the boy-girl party? Will Kamilla overcome her self-consciousness and try out for the play? Can Allie keep anyone from finding out her secret? Told in graphic formal, Junior High Drama shows that while you can't escape the drama, you can certainly survive it.


This is a treat for middle school/junior high girls who love diving into school life and it's problems, and especially enjoy the graphic novel layout.

This book is a collection of several stories, each rotating around difficult situations girls in this age group can face. Because life in junior high isn't easy. The problems surrounding self-consciousness, rumors, mean girls, first dates and so forth are placed in engaging junior high settings with characters which are easy to connect with. Each situation is done well, allowing the characters to gain footing before facing their troubles. The solutions aren't always easy but do-able. And the entire thing never runs into the realm of ridiculousness or over emphasis. These are normal girls who are up against hurdles very typical for a junior high setting.

Each story centers on different characters, showing that everyone faces troubles. The characters are also very diverse, keeping stereotypes at bay. These girls may make mistakes, but most have good hearts and simply aren't sure how to handle the situations. The results and solutions hit real life possibilities, and bring encouraging messages which strengthen self-esteem. After each chapter, there's a slightly more in-depth question and answer section (in form of interviews) and sometimes, extra tips. While these tales are entertaining, the book also offers realistic help on how to deal with such things and where girls can find more assistance if they need it.

Even with all the messages and help, this is simply an enjoyable read. The illustrations allow the emotions to flow and the scenes to come to life. The characters hold depth and make understandable decisions. Plus, there's more than just the drama. These girls have lives and will connect with the readers. The stories are quick paced, not overly dramatic and hold enough tension to keep the pages flipping until the end of the story. It's a lovely read and holds tons of purpose as well.

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