Monday, June 24, 2013

On the Coffee Table: Raina Telgemeier

Title: Drama
Author and Artist: Raina Telgemeier
Image via NPR

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.


  1. Replies
    1. I would imagine this book would be popular at your house, too. I really did just hand the book to the girl and she's happily reading it on the floor next to me.

  2. Drama sounds like a great book! I used to love working in the theater. The only thing I didn't do with it was costume design--I can't even sew a button, much less make a costume--and directing.

    1. I really enjoyed it. My daughter finished it yesterday. I asked her what she thought of it this morning. "Very silly," she said. I think that's a good thing but not sure. She did say she liked it.