Thursday, August 31, 2017

Another Graphic Novel Collab by Hale and Pham

Real Friends, Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham
The same two legends who brought us The Princess in Black join forces for this precious package.  I am really taken with this book.  Laid out in graphic novel frames, with chapters organised based upon people who came into the protag's (Shannon Hale's) life, it reads easy.  But it also contains some profound lessons.  All three of my girls have read (or listened) to this one over and over.  They refer to things within its pages to illustrate points or make connections when they're viewing or reading other narratives; it's a touch-stone work for them.  In addition to being heartfelt, honest and well-told, it's also peppered with some really funny moments.  The quest to find "real friends" sees young Shannon navigating through various friendships and scenarios, and sadly not always faring well ( often because she doesn't have the right thing to say).  The biographical notes at the back are a great inclusion -- I enjoyed them so much I found myself seeking out the "About Me" pages on Hale's website for more, more, more!  The biggest surprise was to find Jesus Christ appeared in the story.  It's nothing too overt, but He does have a presence.  He is presented as a part of Shannon's memoir alongside a range of coping mechanisms -- as a source she drew upon to get through.  Bonus: The book is in full colour and beautifully-illustrated, on top of being moral-rich.  I've already ordered a copy to own.  I highly recommend this for any family that would like a reference point for discussions about school and/or relationships.  For example, if your whole family is familiar with it, you can then say, "Oh, is Soandso being a Jenny?" or "This sounds a little like what happened to Shannon" or "Do you think maybe Soandso needs you to be a Zara in her life?" and so on.  I'm a big fan of real talk, and I think this is a great catalyst for more of it. Even if your family members aren't victims to bullying or exclusion, I think Hale's story can help anyone see things more objectively so they can be more intentional in being and finding "real friends."  If you're not ready to order one just yet, check your local library for a copy -- it's where we first got our hands on one.
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