Kayla Miller’s Crunch | Review
by Kayla Miller
Clarion Books, $24.99 (hardcover), $13.99 (paperback)
Olive Branche, the star of the series beginning with Click (and most recently continued with Clash), faces a new challenge. She’s got so many things she wants to do — guitar lessons, Berry Scouts, school politics, and a contest to make a short film — that basics like sleep and homework are falling by the wayside.
The political challenge is particularly timely, as she and her friends set out to demonstrate that the school dress code is outdated and unfair. More girls than boys are given warnings or detention, and it’s applied inconsistently.
I could definitely relate to the idea of more things to do than time to do them, and I’m sure any number of young people feel the same way, although I hate to think of them already facing this kind of stress. Learning to say no and prioritize yourself is important, as is relying on those who are willing to help you.
This series is so enjoyable because of its depth. Olive joins Berry Scouts to help support her shy friend Willow. It wouldn’t be her first choice of activity but helping a friend is more important. Plus, it’s an example of the kids not always getting their own way, a realistic occurrence.
The open, approachable art makes everything feel friendlier, particularly with the soft pastel coloring by Jess Lome. Comics makes Olive’s vision for her movie visible, too, as we can see what she envisions compared to what she’s able to do in her backyard.
Kayla Miller dedicates Crunch “to those of us who need a break,” and I appreciate her message being such a pleasure to read. There are tips about avoiding burnout and a good portrait of how to accept help from others, all in an entertaining story. There’s also a text page at the back about creating a sensible, achievable to-do list.
It felt a little odd taking life advice from a kids’ graphic novel, but it was one of the more comfortable, smart presentations I’ve seen lately. Crunch is highly recommended.
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.
SLJ Blog Network