Positively Izzy by Terri Libenson

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Positively Izzy by Terri Libensonis a hybrid book - a combination of graphic novel and illustrated diary.

The story follows two middle school aged girls (Brianna - the brain and Izzy - the dreamer) who are both navigating complex family dynamics, shifting friendship groups, boys, school and other concerns of tween/teenage life.Their lives converge on one day.

Each girl narrates their story in alternating chapters so it would be possible to read each continuous story by skipping alternate chapters. Brinna's story is comic book style; Izzy's is diary style text accompanied by illustrations and occasional speech bubbles. The pictures are delightful and convey humour and warmth.

Positively Izzy is the second book in the world of Emmie and Friends but both books can stand alone. Libenson has managed to capture the concerns and angst of young people in an engaging, humorous manner. The story is light but larger social themes stand behind it in an almost sub liminal way - sometimes as background illustrations eg. a poster on a wall, dress or skin colour detail. Izzy and Brianna are white girls but they are surrounded by a multi-racial cast of characters.The dominant theme is of searching, finding and accepting one's own identity and of the understanding that all people are multi faceted and can't be pigeon-holed.

Positively Izzie is sure to be enjoyed by young people especially those who have already discovered Raina Telgemeier, Jennifer Holm and Victoria Jamieson.

Themes: Identity, Labels, Middle School issues, Shifting friendship groups, Family dynamics.

Wendy Jeffrey