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Drama Paperback – Illustrated, 1 Sep 2012
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Praise for SMILE"An utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume's work. . . . Irresistible, funny and touching-a must read for all teenage girls." --KIRKUS REVIEWS"A charming addition to the body of young adult literature that focuses on the trials and tribulations of the slightly nerdy girl." --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY"It hits home partly because there is nothing else out there like it." --New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Raina Telgemeier grew up in San Francisco, then moved to New York City, where she earned an illustration degree at the School of Visual Arts. She is the creator of SMILE, a critically acclaimed graphic memoir based on her childhood, which was a NEW YORK TIMES bestseller and winner of the Will Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens, and received a BOSTON GLOBE-HORN BOOK Honor. Raina also adapted and illustrated The Baby-sitters Club graphic novels, which were selected for YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens list and BOOKLIST's Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth list. Her new graphic novel for Scholastic is titled DRAMA. Raina lives in Astoria, New York, with her husband, Dave Roman. To learn more, visit her online at www.goRaina.com.
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Of its story, Raina Telgemeier's "Drama" doesn't drag, nor does it offer useless pages or plotlines. Indeed, she focuses her story on the most essential points, that is the play's production and the love trials that surround it. Not once are we informed much about her parents, her classes, her grades, or her family life. As such, there is not a single useless page in the story. As for the technicality surrounding a play's production, it is good to know that Raina worked on plays when in High School. Through this small info nod, readers get the certainty that she knows what she is talking about on how school plays are produced. It is also nice of her to show a Reference list that she used for her book as it might incite those that are interested about the subject to consult some reading material. As for me, her book encouraged me to listen or to watch some Broadway plays myself.
Visually, I like how Raina displays her work in Acts, setting it under two realities. First as a comic book to read, but also as a Broadway Play as we see before, during and after the story starts, an audience entering a theater, buying tickets, getting into their seats and leaving them for the intermission. In other words, watching the story as a play while an orchestra plays music. Of that little visual display, you only get this for the technical pages after the cover and the overture, intermission, and Ending sections. Not once does that second perspective interferes with the story. Instead, it left me with the pleasant wish that the story could be adapted as a play or a Musical, or that Raina would offer us a theatrical adaptation of her Moon Over Mississippi in-story.
As for the visual aspects of Drama, there's nothing to criticize about it. Raina and her team have all done excellent drawings, character designs, well-composed panels and some that cover double pages, for instance in her intermission, which enhances the presence of her audience. Therefore, another wonderful artwork from the author.
And now comes in my review the most criticized aspect of this book. The homosexuality subplot involving certain characters who are gay, or bisexual for others. Which certain parents on Amazon reviews have criticized as unacceptable material for their younger children and young teenagers, the kind of subject that makes parents uncomfortable to speak about to them, a topic where homophobes had much to say about their blatant hatred.
A subject I take pretty seriously as I am gay myself.
For those that might be hesitant in letting their children read this book, I can tell them that there is no sexually explicit images inside. We only have teenagers either sharing a kiss or talking about their sexual orientation to their friends in normal and civilized conversations. Nothing more, nothing else. And if some think books about homosexuality are too early for that age, well I can name them other books that have done a good job in presenting this subject to younger children and teenagers. Among that list, books like My Two Uncles, Daddy's Roommate, the comic book series For Better or For Worse, and even Harry Potter.
Indeed, I want to applaud Raina for tackling this very important topic in a comic book for children and teenagers. For it is by showing this reality and talking about it to children and teenagers that we are breaking apart sexual taboos and discomfort over the subject. Especially as not all schools offer proper sexual education programs and material to their students, and also as not all parents are comfortable talking about sexual minorities, or sex, to their children. And personally, I wish I could have had during my high school years a book like Drama as it would have helped me come out of my closet more easily.
As for the homophobes, well let me tell you these words:
"Welcome to the real world.
A world where people are sick and tired of seeing homosexuality exploited as pointing-finger and freak-out subject. Whether it is by the Jenny Jones, Jerry Springer, and Maury Povich of this world and their demeaning Trash TV that they cover up under dumb First Amendment excuses, treating people's differences as a Scandal show, booing material, and slanderous presentation at the cost of their dignities and lives (ex: Scott Amedure). Or by the gutter press whose writers should take a good look at their own lives before demeaning others'.
A world where people have had enough of stereotypes homophobes or, and that really shocks me, certain portions from the gay community still promote.
A world where people desire more humane presentation of homosexuality. To have content as dignifying and exemplary as movies like Priest or BrokeBack Mountain, comic books like Drama, Moto Hagio's After Us the Savage God, or Lynn Johnston's For Better or For Worse, and TV series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena Warrior Princess. Stuff about homosexuality written either by gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, or heterosexuals.
A world where people find your hatred, your ignorance, and your stupidity sickening and an insult to humanity.
A world where people want you to grow up."
It was also good to read about people's enthusiasm for stage and theatre...,and costumes,of course.Maybe Not the basement though !
The progression of the characters,in life as well as on stage,was great to see.As you would expect,ideas were the mainstay of the book.
Both For the book and In it too.I was really rooting for Callie at the end - such innovation ! The audience loved it too.An excellent performance.
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