Friday, March 24, 2017

Spring Reading 2017 Real Friends: A True Story about Cool Kids and Crybabies


Shannon Hale is well known for her chapter books, and now her collaboration with LeUyen Pham will earn new fans among graphic novel readers. Her memoir of her elementary school years and dealing with bullies at school and an older sister who could be a bully at home will show young readers that they are not alone in their struggles. Many people can empathize with Shannon and remember how it felt to want to make friends and feel that everyone else knew some friendship rules that they were somehow never told. How do you get to be part of the "in" crowd? Why is there always someone in a group that seems to be the least empowered or the last one taken into consideration when plans are made?

I heard LeUyen speak on a panel at ALA Midwinter, and she talked about working on the illustrations for this book. She said there were some scenes that were very difficult to draw and she would have to try them out from several viewpoints before she could capture the emotional tone she was going for. One scene in particular she showed to her own child and was told that it was too scary because of the expression on a character's face, so she had to rethink her approach and switch the perspective to make it easier for young readers to deal with. 

The author's note at the end reinforces that this is the story of those year's told from Shannon's memories. Others in the story, classmates and family, may recall some of the same situations differently. That doesn't mean anyone is remembering wrongly, just that they all have their own point of view and how things seemed to them at the time. I love that she included school photos of herself from each of those grades. What a nice touch!

Highly recommended for graphic novel fans, readers of Shannon's other books, and anyone who is feeling left out by friends or even feeling bullied or picked on (but if they are -they should get help from a trusted adult). 

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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