A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Positively Izzy is second graphic novel by Terri Libenson (Invisible Emmie) about two very different middle-school girls who share a surprising connection. Izzy has a flair for the dramatic but struggles to focus on schoolwork, while Brianna is most comfortable concentrating on academics. Libenson deftly portrays kids dealing with pressures and worries straddling school and home: Personal connection and appreciating how you influence and are influenced by others are strong themes. Although the publisher recommends this for ages 8 and up, but that's a little young for some of the material in Izzy's storyline -- references to "dirty magazines," French kissing, and affairs.
What's the story?
POSITIVELY IZZY follows two girls on an important day in middle school. Izzy is smart, talented, creative, and very disorganized -- everyone tells her she needs to learn how to focus. Izzy has worked hard on a solo skit for the talent show but gets grounded on show day because she forgot -- again -- to complete schoolwork. Meanwhile, Bri is known as "the Brain." She hates being reduced to a label, yet she's reluctant to go outside her comfort zone -- especially when her mother, the drama teacher, recruits her to help with the talent show. Both girls take huge risks that lead to new insights about themselves and their families.
Is it any good?
In her second graphic novel, cartoonist Terri Libenson takes a fairly light plot and creates a thoughtful story about an emotionally turbulent -- and important -- day for two young teen girls. Libenson (creator of The Pajama Diaries strip) has a great feel for how middle school can turn relationships inside-out and upside-down in bewildering ways. She uses small glances, a few words, or a giggle to speak volumes about her characters' loneliness, irritation, hopes, and inner conflict.
As she did in Invisible Emmie (Emmie plays a role in this story as well), Libenson unspools each girl's story on parallel tracks but with different styles: comic-style panels for Bri, and short text with plentiful illustrations for Izzy. The references to "dirty magazines" and French kissing in Izzy's storyline are distractingly out of step with the tone of the overall book, unfortunately. It's a quick and easy read for parents, too, looking for help starting a conversation with their kids about how to stay close as their teens grow older.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationships between mothers and daughters in Positively Izzy. Do you share the same interests as your parents? How do you share time together and stay connected?
How do you think you're seen as school? Do you feel defined by a label? How do your parents feel they were labeled when they were younger?
Do you think Izzy was right to risk defying her mother?
- Author: Terri Libenson
- Genre: Family Life
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Middle School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: May 1, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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