Raina Telgemeier's last book, the multiple award winning Smile, so I was very much looking forward to reading this book, Drama. It focuses on the goings on in a middle school theater club. The title has at least two meanings, the first being that the story focuses on the technical aspects of putting on a school musical. The main character is Callie, the set designer of the show, and we get to see her several challenges, including working within a budget, making and moving sets, and getting a special effects cannon to work. I was in one musical in high school, and I have to say that I could relate to these aspects of the book.
As you can see from the excerpts above, Telgemeier's art style is very attractive and colorful. I feel that it is deceptively simple looking, as she is able to convey much emotion and action with relatively few lines. Also, she is adept at varying her presentations at times, with some scenes being more large montages and other more focused on specific exchanges. My one quibble really is that at times I felt there was a little too much exposition in the text, but those instances were few.
I understand that some of the personal issues of sexuality that come up in this book have made it controversial in some places, to the point of it being removed from libraries, but I did not feel that there was anything prurient here and that these situations seemed very realistic and human. I feel more and more issues of sexuality are coming to the fore in young people's lives, and those are better discussed than ignored or shunned. That certainly seems to be the tenor of this group of young people who discussed the book as part of the YALSA Hub Challenge. Eti also has a well detailed defense of the book in this blog post.
Drama has received its share of accolades and was named a Stonewall Honor Book and a Harvey Award Nominee. Ada Calhoun had many positive comments about the story and artwork: "Telgemeier’s momentum-building visual style veers from leisurely
montages during rehearsals to dramatic moments like the sharp half-page
describing a disaster on show night." Kirkus Reviews gave it a starred review and summed up, "With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just
the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand
up and cheer." Publishers Weekly also gave it a starred review and concluded, "Telgemeier’s manga-infused art has some moments of heartache, but the
generally cheerful and affirming story should be eagerly devoured by her
There is a book trailer and much more info on the author's official page. A preview is available here from the book's publisher, Scholastic.