Sharp, funny graphic novel captures chaos of theater.
Popular with kids

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.

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

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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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.

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:Paperback, Nook, Hardback

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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; OK 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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Parent Written bycatapault November 8, 2013

There is a little more to the story . . .

It's important to know that this book addresses the homosexuality of twin 8th grade boys, both of which come out to the central character in the book. Cassie is respectful and kind to the boys and accepts them for who they are. However, the book also has a third character, named West, who it is revealed isn't sure if he is gay or bi. The confusion over sexuality may be a theme too mature for your elementary age child. The book makes no mention of these themes in the summary on the back, in the descripton on the Scholastic website or on Amazon. (Thank you Common Sense Media for mentioning this here.) The book is written on a 2.6 grade level and is a graphic novel, so odds are if it's in your child's elementary school library, your younger child could end up reading this and may not understand these parts of the story. The sexuality of the boys is a sub-theme of the book and I feel that parents should be aware of this so they can make an informed decision about whether their child is ready for this issue or not.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much sex
Kid, 11 years old July 23, 2013


This book is absolutely EXELLENT!! I loved it! I have noticed many people saying its not great, but, this book has good value!! It's a sort of coming of age book with great role models and good humor. Those who say the book is "too gay" or have a problem with those who ARE gay should really keep their mouthes shut. There are gay relationships, but that shouldn't matter much. I think anyone 11+ could read this book. I'm eleven and I loved it! But if eleven doesn't work then you should try 12. Many of the characters are also great. This book is a must read, with great graphics and positive messages! There is no sex but a few kisses between characters (but that's fine) SO I ENCOURAGE YOU TO READ IT!! :)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Educator and Parent of a 11 year old Written bynewdayjenn October 21, 2014

Be Cautious!!!

My 11 year old daughter read this at 10 years old in school. She liked it, however, the the themes in the book are extremely inappropriate for any child under the age of 13. Kissing in the closets at school, homosexuality, and sexual gender. I do not recommend this book despite reviews on other sites.
What other families should know
Too much sex


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