Positively Izzy

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Positively Izzy Book Poster Image
Teen girls connect in emotional graphic novel.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Demonstrates value of practice and working through discomfort when tackling new challenges. Introduces Meisner technique for training to act.

Positive Messages

Children and parents may have more in common than they often realize. Empathy -- viewing things from another perspective -- can help you better understand friend and family dynamics and strengthen your relationships. Trying new things and working through discomfort can lead to great accomplishments. Even when two people don't share the exact same interests or skills, they may still find some common ground where their interests and skills overlap.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Brianna takes responsibility seriously, whether it's schoolwork or helping her mom. She changes her view of Dev and other important people in her life by interacting with them in new ways. Her mom opens up about wanting more connection with Bri but respects her independence and different interests. Izzy gains a better sense of the pressure on her mother and older sister and steps up to help make their lives a little easier. Izzy's sisters prove to be advocates for Izzy, and her mom is able to adjust her own perspective to draw boundaries while supporting Izzy. Dev is a patient, honest coach for Bri.

Violence
Sex

Girls acting out TV shows include "regular or French" air kissing and affairs in their play. Young girl regularly sneaks out of house to look at "dirty magazines" at a friend's house.

Language
Consumerism

Mentions of YouTube, Dumpster, Nike, Cheetos, Honda.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Joke about pretending to slip Xanax in parent's food.

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.

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written byemily hollyuionf May 31, 2018

hi ur book sucks

it is horrible bad words in it ah

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?

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