Telgemeier, Raina. Drama.

NY: Scholastic, 2012.

I became a fan of this author’s graphic novels with Smile, about the young protagonist’s trials and tribulations following a dental accident. You wouldn’t think there would be much of an interesting story there, but it’s really about various aspects of growing up. My very discriminating adolescent granddaughter (who wears braces) loved it — and also the author’s next book, Sisters.

This time, we follow a few months in the life of junior high student Callie Marin, who has been a starry-eyed devotee of musical theater ever since her parents took her to see Les Miserables when she was eight. Unfortunately, she can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but she has a real talent for stagecraft and set design. Her school is putting on Moon Over Mississippi this year and Callie is determined to include live cannon fire on stage.

But much of the story involves Callie’s new friendship with twin brothers Justin and Jesse, both with amazing voices, and at least one of whom is gay. Justin is after the lead in the play while Jesse — too shy to try out — helps him rehearse. Pretty soon, Callie has a crush on both of them. But there’s more to that story, too, when one of the more narcissistic girls refuses to go on because the spotlight won’t be entirely and exclusively on her. And then there’s the whole issue of Callie waiting anxiously for someone to invite her to the Eighth Grade Formal Dance.

My only issue with the book is that it’s a little hard to imagine some of these kids being quite so socially sophisticated at that age as the author portrays them. They seem more like eighteen-year-olds — but perhaps middle school has simply changed more than I was aware of. In any case, it’s a first-rate story with first-rate artwork. Anything you can find by Telgemeier is worth spending time with.

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