Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she’s a terrible singer. Instead she’s the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen, and when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!
My time in the theater in high school and college is one of the happiest times of my life. The late night rehearsals, the time in the scene shop, the endless speculation about who was dating who in the cast made for a months-long narrative that rivaled anything on primetime television. It was a wonderful escape from the awkwardness of teenage life; a place where all the outcasts fit in and the “cool” kids were the outsiders.
Raina Telegemeir captures the spirit of the theater experience beautifully in Drama. Callie’s exuberance about set design is matched only by her best friend’s giddiness over costumes. While they may not be the ones who make the words come alive, they are the ones who make the world of the actors live and breathe. For them, that is more than enough. Along the way, Telegemeir introduces a host of obstacles including budgets, broken equipment, and most difficult of all to overcome…boys!
This is where Telegemeir really shows her storytelling skills. Drama could have easily been just another tween “romance”, but Telgemeir elevates it far beyond that with her characterization. Instead of focusing on the boy drama, Telegemeir instead weaves it in to the sets, costumes, and lighting cues of the production, never letting Callie lose focus of the thing she truly loves. By doing this, Callie becomes a refreshingly different character. A girl who is capable f having feelings and crushes and desires all without losing track of who she is or what is important to her.
The other place where Telgemeir elevates the book is by making it all inclusive. There are boys and girls, kids of all ethnicities, sexualities, and hair colors. They are all treated equally, fairly, and like it isn’t that big of a deal. People are respected for who they are and what they bring to the production as opposed to what they look like or who to whom they are attracted. It is refreshing that, just like the issue of boys, everything is just woven in to the production instead of becoming the focus of the story.
Telegemeir’s art is as adorable as ever. yes, I said it. Adorable. They radiate with happiness. You read the book and want to give every kid in there a hug. They are all so happy and thrilled to be a part of something they love so much, it is hard not to get swept up along with them.
Drama is a fun story which tackles some of ife’s most difficult challenges and wrestles them in to the perspective in which they belong. Boys come and go. Kids discover some difficult truths. But, through it all, the show must go on. Life continues. And then there is the party!
Pick up a copy of Drama today! (PS. Click that link to get it really cheap!)