Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
In her first children's book, cartoonist Libenson (The Pajama Diaries) offers strikingly different visions of seventh grade through two very dissimilar narrators. School is stressful for shy, quiet Emmie; Katie, meanwhile, is breezily popular, confident, and beautiful. With frizzy hair and hunched shoulders, Emmie shows up in tiny vignettes, sandwiched between blocks of text, that make her look as small and insignificant as she feels. Katie's chapters, by contrast, are big, splashy panels that reflect her outgoing personality ("I'm just your average teenage girl," she says after being offered movie roles and the crown of homecoming queen). Emmie and Katie share a crush on classmate Tyler, and when a sappy love note Emmie writes to Tyler as a joke is made public, Emmie is humiliated. Katie rises to her defense, but Emmie eventually learns to speak up for herself, realizing that embarrassment isn't the end of the world and being social isn't as impossible as she thought. A well-executed twist will have readers flipping back to see what they missed while cheering the strides made by Libenson's no-longer-invisible heroine. Ages 8-12. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 5-8-Readers follow a day in the life of Emmie, a shy, quiet eighth grader, as she scrambles to finish her homework, dreads gym class, and navigates hallways full of gossipy girls and spitty boys. She copes by disappearing into her drawing notebook. Interspersed between the illustrated chapters are comics-style panels featuring Katie, a pretty, popular, friendly, confident girl also going through the same middle school day. In homeroom, she notices "that quiet girl. She likes to draw. I'd rather talk. Or text." To amuse themselves during lunch in the chaotic cafeteria, Emmie and her best (and only) friend Bri compose gushy love notes to their secret crushes. Inevitably, Emmie drops hers, and it is found and circulated by the obnoxious class clown. Following the discovery of the love note, Katie comes to Emmie's defense, comforts her, and encourages her to stand up for herself. Many readers will recognize themselves in Emmie and her friends, who are at once self-conscious and eager to be seen for who they are. VERDICT A highly relatable middle grade drama. Recommended for most collections.-Jennifer Costa, Cambridge Public Library, MA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
If quiet seventh-grader Emmie could have her way, she'd draw all the time, hang out with her best friend Brianna, and otherwise keep to herself. Though things stay pretty quiet at home, middle school is another story, especially when a fake love note she wrote to her crush ends up in the hands of an obnoxious, gossipy classmate. Interspersed with Emmie's doodle-laden first-person narrative are comics about popular, athletic, and confident Katie, who has it all figured out. At first, the two narratives seem unrelated, but as the stories begin to intertwine and Emmie starts finding more confidence in spite of the love-note disaster, the connection between Emmie and Katie becomes crystal clear. Libenson's amiable illustrations from Emmie's snarky (though sometimes glib) cartoon commentary in subdued tones to Katie's brightly colored, picture-perfect comic book life add plenty of comical flavor to the relatable story. With all-too-familiar middle-school drama and an empowering lesson about speaking up and bravely facing down embarrassment, this should find an easy audience among fans of Wimpy Kid or Dork Diaries books.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2017 Booklist
Horn Book Review
The main narrative follows a day in the life of super-shy seventh grader Emmie, who rarely speaks to a soul at school; occasional sections follow Katie, super-popular and impossibly perfect (she gets straight As, her parents have never embarrassed her, and everyone wants to be her BFF). Emmie loves to draw and fills her narration with amusingly labeled doodles, while Katies story is told comic-style. When a classmate finds a note Emmie wrote about the boy she likes and shares it with everyone, Emmie goes from feeling completely invisible to feeling embarrassingly visible, with all her classmates staring and laughing at her. Both text and illustrations contain appropriately kidlike descriptions of her social anxiety (a squeezy feeling in my stomach) along with humorous examples of the various horrors of middle school (an illustration shows a spotlight shining on Emmie as she changes clothes for gym class). The more visible (and satisfyingly confident and outspoken) Emmie becomes, the less visible Katie becomes, until she completely disappears--a no-longer-needed coping mechanism that existed only in Emmies imagination and drawings. Libensons clever tale will entertain readers in the throes of middle school as well as younger students both wary of and intrigued by their near future. jennifer m. brabander (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
One bad day in seventh grade can feel like a lifetime. However, even end-of-the-world-level heartache can have surprising and comic consequences. Emmie's story is part of the growing subgenre that hybridizes the middle-grade and graphic novel. With doodle-illustrated prose chapters depicting Emmie's world and entire comics-style sections depicting the popular Kate, Libenson takes readers inside the halls of middle school with the same nod to weirdness and eye-rolling angst as such format standards as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries. Emmie is a painfully shy girl who is forced to see and be seen one fateful day when a playful game with best friend Brianna turns into a nightmare. Libenson uses two different illustration styles to distinguish between Emmie, the soft-spoken wallflower, and Kate, the outgoing girl of fabulousness. An artist using her doodles to illustrate the seventh-grade world, Emmie sees herself as someone with no voice, while the enigmatic, charismatic Kate is full of confidence and determined to push Emmie out of her comfort zone. Though readers may be puzzled by the device initially, Libenson's rationale for the dual portrayals becomes clear in the end. However, the repetition of Emmie's description as quiet, shy, and disenfranchised becomes as grating as a nasal whine. Both Emmie and Kate appear to be white, but school scenes reveal multiethnic classmates. Classic middle school themes come alive, but they fail to really go anywhere. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.