Author: Raina Telgemeier
Paperback, 233 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by GRAPHIX
Recommendation. I recommend this book to girls in the 5th through 9th grade especially those who don’t have the best luck with love and aren’t the most popular. Also, here's the review for her other book, SMILE.
Callie, a seventh grader at Eucalyptus Middle School, couldn’t be more excited for the spring production of Moon over Mississippi. She creates set pieces that make the show come alive; she loves working behind the scenes. Callie was recently crushed by her crush, Greg, and her best guy-friend, Matt, has been acting passive aggressive and gives her the cold shoulder, but Callie doesn’t let this bother her (too much). She and her BFF, Liz the costume designer, are going to make Moon over Mississippi the best show yet.
As Callie is hanging up flyers about auditions for the school musical, she meets a set of twins Justin, the loud, enthusiastic brother, and Jesse, the shy and reserved one. Callie and the boys instantly hit it off and become great friends. Later at school, Justin confines in Callie and tells her he’s gay. Callie is excited that Justin trusts her with his secret. As the weeks progress Callie develops a crush on her fellow stage crewmen, Jesse.
The week before the production, lots of things begin to go wrong. The cannon that Callie is constructing is still not ready and Liz has several costumes that still aren’t done. Not only does Callie have the play to worry about she also wants Jesse to invite her to the 8th Grade Formal, which he has yet to do.
I enjoyed this book a lot; it was a short and quick to read. I feel like all of Callie’s problems are very relatable problems for middle school aged girls—annoying little sibling, having a crush on someone who may or may not like you back, putting too much on your plate, and having to keep your friend’s secrets. I think this is an excellent book for not-so-popular girls in 5th-8th grade.
In junior high and high school, I was very involved with my local youth theatre troupe. Like Callie, I had a less than perfect (okay, downright awful) singing voice. For non-musical productions, I would often have small roles, and for musicals I would help behind stage just like Callie. I love that Raina Telgemeier tells the story of the stage crew, and that they do not wish to be in the limelight, because not everyone does.
o In my experience, the theatre is the perfect place for the not-so-popular kids. It was refreshing to see this be the extracurricular of choice.
o I like that Callie was a part of the stage crew and wasn't jealous of the actors.
o I love how awkward Jesse and Justin’s dad was. Being embarrassed of your parents is a normal part of being in middle school. Drama expertly shows how caring parents embarrass their teenagers.
o I really like how flippantly Callie moves from one crush to another. Let’s be real, that’s something we all did/do at that age.
o I like the racial diversity of this book. The students are all sorts of ethnicities, but it’s never addressed. I think that’s great, because it just shows how normal it is to be around people of different cultures.
o I like how Mr. Madera gives the students the freedom to work on their own projects within the production of Moon over Mississippi. It shows that they are valued, and he trusts them to finish their duties.
o I would have like the book to be a little longer or a sequel--maybe. I'm so fond of Callie and her friends, that I would like to see more of them. May Raina could write a book for Liz.
o All of the boys had dark hair so sometimes it was a little confusing to figure out which boy Callie was talking to. The copy of this book I read was a pre-pub, and wasn’t fully in color. So maybe once the color was added it was easier to differentiate between the characters.