December 1. The year is winding down. While to some December means end-of-the-year holidays and cold weather, to me it means the arrival of "Best of the Year" booklists. I pore over them the way I used to study the old Sears Christmas catalogs, agreeing with some selections, shaking my head over others and marking those still to be read. The Teaching Authors don't think the reviewers at Publisher's Weekly and School Library Journal should have all the fun. In the next couple of weeks we will be discussing our own favorites reads of 2014, whether they were published this year or not.
In fact, my favorite read of the year, the graphic novel Drama by Raina Telgemeier, was published in 2012. Telgemeier also published this year, Sisters, which is every bit as good as Drama. However, Drama first caught my eye because it is about a subject close to my heart...a middle school drama club. Having been a middle school (and high school) drama club director for many years, I wanted to see how close the book came to my own experience.
Telegemeier not only nailed the excitement of producing drama on stage, but all the little "dramas" that go on every day in middle school. Callie, the main character, can't sing or act well enough to perform on stage in the school musical, but she loves theater so much she is thrilled to design and build the sets. The characters are not the school "cool" kids but the "stage rats," kids besotted by the world of theater. One detail that the author captured perfectly is the ability of these junior actors to accept each other unconditionally. Nothing really mattered except whether or not a person could perform their assigned task, onstage or off.
Telgemeier is also the author of Smile, a graphic novel of living though orthodontia. Smile is geared for an elementary audience getting their first braces. Drama is most definitely for an older reader, sixth grade and up. My review for Drama? Standing ovation, all the way!
posted by Mary Ann Rodman