Common Sense Media says

Sharp, funny graphic novel captures chaos of theater.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Drama presents a detailed and realistic picture of what it takes, onstage and backstage, to produce an ambitious piece of musical theater.

Positive messages

It takes many hands to put on a school musical, and Drama emphasizes that teamwork sometimes trumps talent. Everyone has his or her part to play, and when disaster looms, it's honesty and hard work that save the day.

Positive role models

The protagonist, Callie, is a realistically depicted seventh-grade girl who's eager to make Moon Over Mississippi a Broadway-worthy production. She works hard but has to learn to temper her enthusiasm with a sense of reality about what's possible on a middle school budget. She also has to learn to deal with her feelings about two cute brothers who join the show.

Not applicable

The story addresses middle school characters' sexual orientation and depicts same-sex and opposite-sex crushes.

Not applicable
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Drama is a funny, affecting look at what it takes to put on a middle school musical. The story emphasizes the need for teamwork, both on stage and backstage. Some readers may be uncomfortable with the graphic novel's depiction of homosexual crushes between young teens, but the author treats the subject with discretion, and there's no depiction of romantic contact between members of the same sex. One male character is forthrightly gay, while another seems uncertain about his sexuality.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Seventh-grader Callie's passion for theater is expressed through her work backstage, rather than by aiming for the spotlight. When her middle school prepares a production of the musical Moon Over Mississippi, Callie has ambitious ideas for building the sets so that the play is Broadway-worthy. But the reality of a small budget, unimpressive ticket sales, and a fractious backstage crew threaten to puncture Callie's dream. Add in a series of romantic misunderstandings, and Callie has her hands full.

Is it any good?


Written with affection and humor, DRAMA captures the excitement and chaos of producing an ambitious school musical. Author-illustrator Raina Telgemeier creates an engaging cast of diverse personality types and sets up engaging conflicts for them to resolve. Her depiction of same-sex crushes in middle school may make some readers uncomfortable, but the issue is handled with subtlety and sensitivity.

Telgemeier's cartoony artwork has the humor and expressiveness of an "Archie" comic in its prime, but with a slightly younger -- and more diverse -- cast of characters. (Although more distinctive features or wardrobes for brothers Jesse and Justin might have provided some welcome narrative clarity.) 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the graphic novel format. How is it effective in telling the story of Drama? 

  • Does Drama give you a good idea of what it takes to stage an ambitious school musical? Does this book make you want to work on a school production?

  • Why is it sometimes difficult to try new activities? What prevents kids from exploring unfamiliar social circles?

Book details

Author:Raina Telgemeier
Illustrator:Raina Telgemeier
Genre:Coming of Age
Topics:Arts and dance, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs, Music and sing-along
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:September 1, 2012
Number of pages:240
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14
Available on:Hardback, Nook, Paperback

This review of Drama was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byBUCKBUCK December 24, 2012


Another great book by Rania. It is an easy read. This book is definatly more girl oreinted and elementarty readers may dislike the crush stuff especially between 2 boys.

Kid, 11 years old December 28, 2012

Nice Story, Bad Message

I am a huge Raina Telgemier fan after reading her first graphic novel "Smile"! When I heard she is publishing another novel I was very jubilant and I went to the library that very day and placed a hold on the book! After two weeks I got the book and I was ready to get my nose stuck in the book! After 20 pages you find out one of the characters is gay! GAY! Is that necessary for a book recommended for 7-13 year olds! The story of the girl Callie and her middle school journey through a middle school play Moon Over Mississippi is overal fonaminal! I loved it so much! But what made me not enjoy the book is as a 10 year old child reading a book filled with gay characters and sexual activities! The gayness wouldn't end and I became very disappointed in this author! One of my favorites instantly became an author I had high expectations for!!!! Drama is a nice story but a bad sexual message!

Teen, 13 years old Written byseaotter77 January 4, 2013

Not appropriate

There is a lot of homosexuality mentioned in the book, and I don't think CSM did a good job of mentioning/talking about it. The book is good quality, but it is for an older audience.

What other families should know
Great role models
Too much sex


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