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Monday, November 06, 2017

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Real FriendsReal Friends is a graphic memoir by the author of the Princess in Black and Princess Academy series. Shannon is a nervous, kind of awkward girl, and she has a hard time making friends. Her older sister is really mean a lot of the time, and her mom keeps telling her, "You just need one friend." So when Shannon meets Adrienne in Kindergarten, she thinks that this is great! She finally has her one friend. But then, Adrienne wants other friends, too, including Jen, the most popular girl in school. Only Jen wants to be Adrienne's best friend, and her group of friends isn't always very nice to Shannon, despite claiming to be her friends. Dealing with friend-sabotage, games of pretend, and sibling rivalry, Real Friends will resonate with fans of Raina Telgemeier and Sunny Side Up.

Real Friends is an amazing graphic novel -- I read it in one sitting. It perfectly captures the difficulty of being a girl during 4-6th grade, when kids form cliques and have a hard time sharing friends with each other. In addition to touching on bullying, it also examines childhood anxiety and the constant feeling of failure and not being good enough at anything that I definitely remember from being a kid. It's not all seriousness, though! There are a lot of passages that are just Shannon being a really imaginative, fun kid, who does things like pretend to be part of Charlie's Angels, or have superhero adventures, or any number of indications that, while a little awkward, Shannon was probably a great friend.

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