Drama

DramaSummary: Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she’s a terrible singer. Instead she’s the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen, and when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier! Following the success of SMILE, Raina Telgemeier brings us another graphic novel featuring a diverse set of characters that humorously explores friendship, crushes, and all-around drama!

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Drama, by Raina Telgemeier 7.25

‘Drama’ is the story of Callie, a seventh grader who joins her school’s production of ‘Moon Over Mississippi’. Devoid of any singing talent, she ambitiously decides to covet the position of set designer – and lands it.

Her big dreams are limited by a small budget. Still, she will do everything she can to impress the audience – including putting together a working canon. And, all this time, she’s also making new friends, and falling in love.

‘Drama’ is a light little number that is both familiar and refreshing at once. While the plot is nothing new, there’s a quality to Telgemeier’s book that makes it a breezy, delightful read, that makes one want to turn the page.

I think part of the reason is that it feels real. The situations, and what the characters discuss or experience, don’t seem contrived or melodramatic. This makes Callie’s story very relatable – not just for teenagers, but to the teenager in all of us.

I quite liked that Telgemeier broke Callie out of many stereotypes: she’s not the prettiest (and has no such ambitions), nor a girly-girl, and her whole raison d’être isn’t to be someone’s girlfriend. She’s just Callie. And she’s lovely.

I liked that Telgemeier subtly made her characters different without highlighting that they were: in ‘Drama’ it’s normal for Callie to have purple hair, for her friends to be of different races or various sexual orientations. That’s just life.

Telgemeier doesn’t fuss over such details even if some of it is important to the plot (ex: Callie’s eye is on a friend who she discovers is gay). She makes the characters understanding of each other’s differences and foibles. They are very open.

And that’s something I very much appreciated about ‘Drama’: it’s not filled with artificial drama. People are different, people screw up, and she lets the characters model what it would be like for us to be accepting and forgiving.

It’s a lovely change from all the Hollywood crap we are fed. Here we are given role models of all types and they are healthy, sound ones. There are also life lessons to be learned, but they’re so subtle as to be almost subconscious.

That’s a terrific touch.

The art is nice. It’s not stellar, but given that Telgemeier writes, pencils and inks her works, one can forgive certain limitations. Frankly, given its intended audience and the subject matter, I find it wholly appropriate.

I would whole-heartedly recommend the book to teenaged readers and to parents who want their kids to read something balanced and wholesome. I think that ‘Drama’ is an excellent graphic novel on all levels.

I look forward to reading more of Telgemeier’s works.

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