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awkward

awkwardawkward
Written and Illustrated by: Svetlana Chmakova
Publisher: Yen Press
Format: HC/SC, 6 x 9, 192 pages, Black and White, $24.00/$11.00
ISBN: HC: 978-0-31638-132-1/SC: 978-0-31638-130-7

Review

Penelope Torres, "Peppi," already knows the first rule of moving to a new town and starting middle school with a new group of people: Don't get noticed by the mean kids!

Well, she can throw that rule out the window right away. On day one! On the very first day Peppi accidentally trips and definitely gets noticed by all the mean kids. To quote Peppi herself day one is a "Big fail!"

With a kind-heart beating strongly and secretively inside of her, however, Peppi must decide if she should apologize to the kid she mistreated on the first day or just fit in and not say anything to the silent "Nerder." Should she apologize? Will the mean kids notice? What about all of her new friends?

An awkward moment, an awkward decision. What will Peppi do? Do her fears or her heart win the day? A perfect young adult graphic novel this text authentically asks young adult readers to think about right and wrong, and all of those awkward moments that perhaps define their own lives at this time.

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plots: Peppi is new to Berrybrook Middle School, and on her first day is noticed by "the mean kids." Seeking friends with similar interests she joins the art club to help herself fit in; the art club is barely hanging onto its existence, however, and must come up with a major idea in order to get a table at the school fair. Too quiet to speak out or afraid to attract more attention to herself Peppi struggles to speak her mind. Club leader Maribella doesn't stuggle though. Her idea is the exact same idea Peppi murmured only to herself! If the art club is to make a difference in the greater school community they should contribute to the school newspaper, a comic strip that ends up being named "Comic Punch!"

Excited about the potential for the "Comic Punch!" newpaper text Peppi finds herself in a simultaneously yet awkward position with the pending or possible apology to "Nerder."

Major Characters: Penelope "Peppi," "Nerder," "The Mean Kids," Art Club Friends, Mr. Ramirez, Maribella Samson, Miss Tobins, the principal, Mrs. Pratt

Settings: Berrybrook Middle School, art club room, science room, library

Themes: being an insider verse being an outsider, belonging, individual and community, problem-solving, friendship, truth and lies, clubs and organizations, teamwork, new and old

Reading Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards For Young Adult Readers

Craft and Structure
4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

* The number(s) referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.commoncore.org)

Lesson Idea for Young Adult Readers:

Directions:
An excellent example of the young adult experience this graphic novel is perfectly titled "awkward." For that reason, educators can use the title to teach students about craft and structure.

With examples of "awkward" abundant educators can use the following graphic organizer to pull out and identify how the words and the images identify examples of the title, "awkward."

Find, identify, and describe moments in the text that exemplify the title, awkward.

 

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Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2013); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (in press, 2014). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her two wiener dogs, Sam and Max.