I don’t normally read many graphic novels, but I really enjoyed Drama by Raina Telgemeier, a graphic novel with more depth than I expected about a middle-school drama production.
Callie is a 7th grader who is in love with live theater. She figured out a while ago that she doesn’t have the talent for singing or acting, but Callie has found her place in the world of theater on the stage crew, working on set design. She and her friends are excited about helping to put on this year’s production of Moon Over Mississippi. Adding to the fun are twin brothers Callie just met who share her enthusiasm for the stage.
Of course, there are the usual mishaps and challenges inherent in a school play, but this novel has several features that make it different. The first is the emphasis on the stage crew instead of on the lead actors. My son had the lead role in his own middle-school’s musical last year, so I was fascinated to learn about what goes on behind the scenes and back stage. Kids will like finding out that there are ways to be an important part of a school play even if singing in front of a crowded auditorium isn’t their thing.
The other feature that makes Drama stand out is its emotional depth. Yes, there are the puppy love crushes and unrequited love you expect to find in any middle-grade novel, but this book deals with more complicated issues as well, including homosexuality and the difficulty of trying to figure out who you are as an adolescent. But these serious issues are dealt with in a fairly light way, not overshadowing the fun and, well…drama of putting on the school play. With romance, humor, and the fascinating world of the theater, this graphic novel is sure to be a big hit with tweens.