Amulet Books, 2011. 978-0810997226
Synopsis: Paige Turner has just moved from Virginia to New York and she feels lost in the big city. She’s worried no one at school will talk to her, that she won’t fit in, and she misses her friend Diana. On a whim, Paige buys a sketchbook and decides to fill it with her drawings and use them to illustrate nine pieces of advice given to her by her grandmother. Page by page, Paige becomes more confident, social, and better acquainted with herself and the world around her.
Why I picked it up: It was a title that got tossed around in a couple of my classes in library school and I decided to check it out.
Why I finished it: The color cover was so vibrant that I was thrown through a loop for a brief moment when I realized the book was in black and white, but the lack of color didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the story in any way. The simplistic nature of the black and white sketches and drawings Gulledge uses is helpful in showing Paige’s inner monologues and how she moves from self-doubt to self-confidence. Self-discovery is a very personal thing and Gulledge’s story illustrates this beautifully over the course of the book. I found myself identifying closely with Paige as she explores her relationships with her parents, her peers, and herself. I thought the portions about the familiar relationships were particularly well-executed, since during the teen years we often feel a sense of suffocation from the parent/authority figures in our lives. The characters were likable and they complimented Paige very well, but by the end of the story I still felt like they were two dimensional – granted, the story is Paige’s story, but I might have liked to see Gulledge discuss these relationships more. I’d probably recommend this story for junior highers/younger teens because of some of the content and subject matter toward the middle of the book, but I know that Tweens will pick up a lot of the books that their older peers are reading. Overall, a touching story that encourages the reader to find their voice.
Other related materials: Smile by Raina Telgemeier; Drama by Raina Telgemeier; A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeline L’Engle, illustrated by Hope Larson; Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol; Feed by M.T. Anderson; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; Tangerine by Edward Bloor; Rapunzel’s Revenge by Dean Hale and Shannon Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale; The City of Ember: The Graphic Novel by Jeanne DuPrau, adapted by Dallas Middaugh, illustrated by Niklas Asker; When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead; Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine; To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel, illustrated by Mark Siegel; Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano