Awkward, by Svetlana Chmakova

AwkwardAwkward
by Svetlana Chmakova
Pub Date: July 21, 2015

Peppi Torres has 2 Cardinal Rules for surviving school: #1- Don’t get noticed by the mean kids and #2- Seek out groups with similar interests and join them. Unfortunately for Peppi, she broke the first rule on her first day when she trips over her own feet, drops everything, and is helped by the nerdiest boy in school. What could she do when the mean kids start to tease her? She had to push the nerdy boy away from her. Now she has been in school for a couple months, and she still regrets pushing him. Peppi avoids him, especially when she realizes he is a member of the science club—the enemy of her art club.

This story is cute, and reminded me of my middle school days. I remember being the band geek that was so nervous about being noticed. Peppi and Jaime (the nerdy boy Peppi pushed) reminded me of those quiet kids in school, the ones who don’t say a word in class and dread being called on by the teacher. Throughout the story, Peppi learns she is stronger than she believed and that even the people who seem to have everything together have their own problems.

Not only was this graphic novel a sweet story of growing up, it also shows a variety of people without being forced. Most stories have the typical white, physically fit kids with maybe one character who has a different skin color. The illustrations in this book includes the beautiful black Miss Tobins, Jaime’s mother in a wheelchair, Akilah Saib in a hijab, and the middle school students who are all different sizes and shapes. After reading books for Black History Month in February, this aspect really stood out to me.

I would recommend this story to those who love to have a quick trip back in time to when life revolved around the school social hierarchy and an afterschool club could define your existence. It’s a sweet story about finding friends in the most unlikely places and working together to make something incredible.

March Book One, by John Lewis

MarchMarch Book One
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
Pub Date: August 13, 2013

I admire the people who participated in the Civil Rights Movement. So when I heard that John Lewis was going to write an autobiography of his life in a graphic novel format, I knew this was a book we needed in the library. It didn’t disappoint. The story describes what the South was like for black people, as well as showing some of the beginning events in the Civil Rights Movement. Graphic novels are such a great way to take history beyond words into something visual. I am glad John Lewis decided to tell his story, and to tell it as a graphic novel.

After reading this, I am sure that I could not have been one of the protestors. The training they went through to prepare to be violently and physically abused was rigorous. With rules like ‘do not strike back or curse if abused,’ ‘do not laugh out,’ and ‘show yourself friendly and courteous at all times,’  I could not have handled violent or tense situations for hours. It is truly remarkable what John Lewis and people like him were able to accomplish through peaceful protest. As John Lewis says, “We wanted to change America—to make it something different, something better.” They certainly did.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to learn about history in a personal way, especially if you have never read a graphic novel. This is a great history book: it’s not dry facts and it’s fast-paced. Also, March is a great book for reluctant or struggling readers.