Awkward

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by Svetlana Chmakova
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

On Peppi’s (full name Penelope Torres) first day at a new school, she trips and falls, scattering her books and papers. When Jaime helps her, the bullies call her “nerder’s girlfriend” and she literally pushes him away from her. She is wracked with guilt until she finally gets up the nerve to apologize and the two become friends. But more trouble is in store, because Jaime is in Science Club and Peppi joins Art Club, who are each vying for a table at the Club Fair and for funding. The rival clubs get into a feud that it turns out only Peppi and Jaime can stop.

One thing I often have trouble with in graphic novels is action scenes being hard to follow, but these ones were clearly explained (and fairly simple and infrequent). The characters were diverse and three-dimensional: Peppi is presumably a person of color. Jaime’s mom is in a wheelchair, with no commentary, which felt refreshing. The science teacher, Miss Tobins, appears to be a woman of color, and the newspaper’s “staff reporter” is Akilah, who wears a head scarf. The Art Club’s leader, Maribella, is also an interesting character as her father is very demanding and she just wants his approval, so failure to her is devastating. (For any Gilmore Girls fans out there, Peppi and Maribella reminded me a lot of Rory and Paris.) I also liked that there was a section at the end about how the book came together, for kids interested in the making of graphic novels.

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