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Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
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A seriously awesome graphic novel that covers so many different things -- bullying, social anxiety, the weird art vs. science feud, parental pressure, and more. The artwork is beautiful and the story is highly relatable with a positive message. ( )
  bucketofrhymes | Dec 13, 2017 |
Penelope is the new kid in school, trying to keep out of the way of the mean kids, when she's immediately picked on as being the "nerder girlfriend" of Jaime. She reacts by being mean in turn to Jaime, a decision she quickly regrets, but she can't seem to pull herself together to apologize to him. Playing to her strengths, Penelope joins the art club in making a comic strip for the school's newspaper. It turns out that the art club's archenemy is the science club, of which Jaime is a member ... talk about awkward for Penelope. Will Penelope make up with Jaime? And will the art club and the science club ever get along?

This book is a light and quick read. It could probably be read in a single sitting, but the author helpfully includes chapters for readers who need to take a break. The story, with its emphasis on friendship and working in cooperation, is a good one for middle schoolers. However, the details are a little light; for instance, we never learn why Penelope just moved in to town. On the one hand, that keeps this book short and breezy; on the other hand, the characters and story just don't feel a hundred percent well-rounded or completely realistic.

My big grippe with this book is that the illustration style is much more like a Japanese manga than an American graphic novel. There's not wrong with that in and of itself, but the cover doesn't give that impression. Personally, it's not a style I like; the over-the-top exaggerated faces give the book a level of silliness that I don't care for, especially when some darker topics do come up (e.g., Penelope's friend who, along with her mother, flee from their house overnight when her father becomes too threatening). On the plus side, through the illustrations we see a wide cast of characters with all kinds of diversity (religious, ethnic, ability/disability, etc.). I particularly loved the science teacher; however, on the flip side, the art teacher's inability to do even basic tasks was over the top and frustrating to see. (He was the only character who seemed like a sitcom stereotype.)

All in all, a solid read for kids in upper elementary school and junior high. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Oct 24, 2017 |
This book really gets what it's like to start at a new school. I loved the vibrant illustrations and subtle humor. It's a very enjoyable read and I would suggest it as a gift for a girl or boy in middle school or a person who is interested in creating graphic novels. The author includes step-by-step instructions of her writing and drawing process at the end of the book that are simple to understand and fun to read. ( )
  StefanieGeeks | Jul 13, 2017 |
I enjoyed this book. At first, it took me awhile to get used to the drawing style. Character's reactions look over the top- it reminded me of anime cartoons. However, it makes an interesting reading. I loved the idea of high school environment and the fight between Art and science. The friendship between Jamie and Penelope was beyond cute.

Ps: a small detail, but so glad to see one of the characters have a headscarf on. It is such a rare thing to see in books or tv (unless it is a part of a negative propaganda). I think creating a diverse setting will help readers/viewers see the whole world under a neutral light. ( )
  soontobefree | May 1, 2017 |
This is a better than usual graphic novel. The main character, Peppi, trips and falls on her first day in a new school. A quiet boy, Jaime, tries to help her pick up her books, but because of the reaction of the other students (calling him a nerd) she pushes him away, yelling, "Leave me alone!" She spends much of the rest of the book regretting her actions and trying to find a way to apologize to him. In her attempts to fit in a new school, she joins the Art Club, in direct competition with the Science Club, of which Jaime is a member. This book covers the topics of bullying, doing the right thing, and believing in yourself. The characters are fairly well developed and the topics would appeal to 4th or 5th graders. I particularly enjoyed the addition of notes from the author at the end of this book where she told about how she got interested in drawing comics, and how she actually put this book together--text script and the drawing process. ( )
  RLeiphart | Feb 4, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316381306, Paperback)

Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don't get noticed by the mean kids.

Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.

On her first day at her new school, Penelope--Peppi--Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she's already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the "nerder girlfriend." How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!

Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can't help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he's a member of her own club's archrivals--the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 21 Jul 2015 09:14:28 -0400)

After shunning Jaime, the school nerd, on her first day at a new middle school, Penelope Torres tries to blend in with her new friends in the art club, until the art club goes to war with the science club, of which Jaime is a member.

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