by Kayla Miller
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $10.99
Olive has a wide variety of friends — some from class, some on the bus, some in the neighborhood. When it’s time for the school variety show, though, she feels left out, because all her friends have formed their own little groups and acts.
Kayla Miller shows us a different portrait of what friendship can be in a simple, direct manner. The colorful pages reflect the various interests and attitudes of the many kids, whether cheerleading, karate, music, or magic. The storytelling is straightforward, with expressive faces.
The solution to finding the right thing for Olive to do is driven by some clever, unexpected advice from cool Aunt Molly. She lays out a message, that friendship means different things to different people at different times of life, directly, but it reads as helpful, not preachy. This is a view of school friendship that’s thought-provoking because it’s not the usual fictional focus on a best buddy or two. And Molly’s research idea was surprisingly terrific, particularly given the clothing from the period it involved.
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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