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Review: Making Friends

Just in time for back to school, another middle grade story about friendship and the woes of middle school hits the shelf. But this story isn’t autobiographical and it has a magical twist.

Making Friends
By Kristen Gudsnuk.
Graphix. 2018. ISBN 978133813922
hc, $24.99. 272pp.
Grades 4 and up

Making Friends 1When Danielle’s great aunt passes away the family is left to sort through her stuff. While the adults are arguing, Danielle finds some old sketchbooks that she is allowed to keep. But when she draws in it, her drawings come alive. First, a head-only version of Prince Neptune, a comic book character that she drew comes out and guides Danielle through her difficult days in 7th grade. But when she feels lonely, Danielle creates a friend for herself—and winds up with more than she bargained for.

Her plan ultimately backfires. Madison, the newly created friend, wonders where her parents are. She finds her own sense of self, separate from Danielle. Then Prince Neptune shows his true evil-comic book self, causing havoc in their middle school. But ultimately, the theme of finding friends, a sense of self, wrap up very nicely.

The artwork is fresh and vibrant. There is a hint of manga style to appeal to an audience that probably grew up with manga and anime. The coloring shifts as the story moves, each time changing to reflect the tone of the story.

This will go over well with fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jenny Holm.

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Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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