Wednesday, August 17, 2016


On her first day as a new student, Middle schooler Penelope “Peppi” Torres will accidently catch the attention of mean-spirited students by tripping over her own feet. In a moment of panic, Peppi will push a quiet boy and scramble away, leaving him to endure the taunts of their classmates. This brief moment will be seared into Peppi’s memory as, even weeks later, she agonizes incessantly over how to apologize.

Peppi knows moving to a new town and school is rarely easy. That’s why she is horrified to break cardinal rule #1 for surviving school on her very first day: don’t get noticed by the mean kids. Luckily, there’s Art Club. There Peppi finds her place among young artists, sharing ideas, bemoaning artist’s block, and commiserating with them over their long-standing rivalry with the Science Club.

Peppi gradually develops an awkward friendship with the quiet boy, a “rival” from the science club, but finds it difficult to navigate between social groups. A highly publicized competition between the two clubs to earn a coveted spot at the annual school club fair ultimately tests her loyalties.

Though the rivalry between the two clubs can feel forced at times (I imagine there are plenty of kids who appreciate both art and science), Svetlana Chmakova’s graphic novel Awkward deftly explores themes of loyalty, friendship, and morality, while remaining true to its middle grade target audience. Give this to readers who are eagerly awaiting Raina Telgemeier's next book (Ghosts in September 2016).

Grades 4+

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