Lights, Camera, Action!: Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Drama by Raina Telgemeierdrama

Published: Published September 1st 2012 by Scholastic/GRAPHIX

Source: local library


Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department 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!

My thoughts: I can’t imagine I would have ever picked this up had it not been for The Hub Challenge. Drama appeared on several YALSA and award lists, including the Stonewall list (for books featuring LGBTQ characters), Great Graphic Novels, and Popular Paperbacks. It’s easy to see why.  Not only is it a fun, easy to read, and visually appealing book, it captures the “drama” of middle school when kids are first trying out the idea of dating.

The illustrations are easy to follow and fun—I did get a little confused over the twin boys, but that’s probably because I’m not an experienced graphic novel reader and should have been able to tell from the drawings rather than the dialogue. Callie’s expressions were priceless and so realistic. And I’m sure her purple hair makes her cool in the eyes of middle school readers—it would have been a hit with me at that age.

Callie dreams of designing sets for musicals. She is self-deprecating and doesn’t have a problem jumping up on stage to “audition” for a part in the musical, just for fun and to show a shy friend that it’s not so hard. Like lots of girls her age, she crushes easily and while nervous about rejection, still isn’t afraid to put her feelings out there, which I admired. When relationships don’t go as she hopes, she rolls with it.  Callie is an endearing character with whom many young girls will identify.

I’d like to get to a point where the inclusion of kids with different colors of skin and with non-heterosexual identities isn’t noteworthy, but it is. Telegemeier presents a very diverse cast in a very typical middle school story, which is awesome. I hope to see more stories like this in the future, especially for this age group.

Second opinions:

Rather be Reading: “I can only describe Drama as a total delight. It has surprising depth but doesn’t weigh down the flow of the story or even the lighter moments. There are so many details to look at and take in when it comes to this novel, and I could see myself flipping through it again and again.”

Teach Mentor Texts: “Drama is quite possibly the most honest piece of realistic fiction I have ever read. I’m insanely proud of Raina for writing this book but also for Scholastic and Graphix for supporting her and this story. Sometimes people are hesitant to be completely honest and transparent about experiences kids are having everyday all over the world – by telling this story, Raina is telling her readers that she acknowledges the fact that not every person feels the same way about his or her sexuality and that understanding and accepting how they do feel might take time and might not be easy but it doesn’t mean it’s not real.”


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