Author and Artist: Raina Telgemeier
A music teacher by trade, I've recently become more involved with the
drama program at the middle school where I teach. I was officially
co-director for two plays this year: Annie in the fall and Romeo and Juliet in the spring. I say "officially" because in nearly all theatre
matters, I defer to my more experienced teaching partner. We shall call
him Drama Guy.
Drama Guy and I share an office. One day, he dropped this book on my desk, saying "I don't give a lot of gifts but I saw this at the book store yesterday and thought you might enjoy it." Drama is the story of Callie, a seventh grade girl who works as the set designer for her middle school's drama department. Telgemeier's graphic novel provides a light-hearted glimpse into the often terrifying world of adolescence. All of the usual he-said/she-said insecurities abound but Callie thrives in her drama club family.
My own theatrical experiences are very limited. I only did one play in high school and that was plenty. There were many reasons why but in the final analysis, it was pretty simple: I didn't like the actors at my school very much. The musicians, on the other hand - I liked them a lot. Even the actors who were my close friends were usually musicians first, actors second.
I did, however, have a lot of friends in the stage crew. Now that my life has taken this new interesting turn, I regret not taking advantage of such opportunities when I was younger. Better late than never, I suppose.
I like a lot of things about this book. Callie is a very believable character - not too pretty, not too plain, just normal. She's a good friend but far from perfect. Her drive to succeed, to leave no problem unsolved is highly admirable. She has predictable obsessions with finding a boyfriend but the story resolves the issue in an unexpected and satisfying way. Her friends' revelations of sexual preference are handled gently and realistically - as matter of fact rather than taboo.
As soon as I'm done with this reflection, I'll be handing the book to my daughter. I think she'll enjoy it. She's drawn to strong female leads and Callie certainly fits the bill. I have also suspected for some time that a long-term interest in theatre is inevitable once she has the opportunity. It combines all of the things she loves: stories, art, music, dance, etc. A recent interest in textile arts has developed. She asked for and received a sewing machine for Christmas. The costume designer, Liz, is Callie's best friend and I think Our Girl would be excited to see such possibilities for her own future.