Thursday, February 9, 2012

PAGE BY PAIGE by Laura Lee Gulledge

Author:  Laura Lee Gulledge
Publisher: Amulet Books (an imprint of Abrams)
Release Date: May 1, 2011
Number of Pages: 192
Source of Book: Bought a signed copy at the NCTE Convention
Paige Turner has just moved to New York with her family, and she's having some trouble adjusting to the big city. In the pages of her sketchbook, she tries to make sense of her new life, including trying out her secret identity: artist. As she makes friends and starts to explore the city, she slowly brings her secret identity out into the open, a process that is equal parts terrifying and rewarding.Laura Lee Gulledge crafts stories and panels with images that are thought-provoking, funny, and emotionally resonant. Teens struggling to find their place can see themselves in Paige's honest, heartfelt story.
I haven't read as many graphic novels as I would like to, but this is absolutely one of my favorites I've ever read, and I don't think that will chance no matter how many I read! I'm so thankful that I saw Paul Hankins talking about it on twitter because when I saw in the booth at NCTE, I snapped it up right away. This is the kind of graphic novel I know I'll be able to hook my students with. It has quite a bit of girl appeal as Paige is a teen whose parents moved her to a new city and she has to start all over at a new school. As she's discovering her new city, she is also struggling to discover herself. It starts off with Paige staring at a blank sketchbook page, a realistic metaphor for a teenage girl starting at a new school and learning how to reinvent herself. This is a universal coming-of-age story written in an engaging way for a teen audience. It's quiet and subtle, much like Paige herself, with a beautiful art style, not so much comic book style. It's also about being brave and honest and true to oneself-all messages we all can use at times.

I really enjoyed how Laura Lee structured the pacing of this book by dividing each section with the month of the school year, and Paige trying one piece of advice her grandmother gave her. Each piece of advice is something for Paige to do to help her come out of her shell, take risks, and stand up for herself. Paige (and Laura Lee) is a wonderful artist and many of the drawings are very creative in perspective and focus. I enjoyed the artistry of this book as much as I enjoyed the plot. Paige is an honest and likeable and realistic character as a teen girl, and the group of friends she makes are also really likeable. I wanted to be friends with all of them. Through meeting them and getting their support, Paige is able to take chances and trust that her feelings are valid and starts to gain confidence in herself. One of my favorite scenes was when the group of them went to the park and put happy vibes out for people to see. PAGE BY PAIGE is a book that I would recommend to anyone (whether they've read a graphic novel before or not) and I have confidence it will be fully enjoyed. In fact, many of my students have already done so (although I did have to teach a few of them how to "read" a graphic novel first so they would get the full effect of this book).

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