For Danielle, sixth grade was perfect. She had her friends, did well in class, and felt comfortable. But once seventh grade starts, all of that changes. Danielle’s best friends are in a different class schedule and she feels lost and alone. All Dany wants is to have a best friend who understands her.

While cleaning out her late great aunt’s house, she finds an old sketchbook. At first, she just doodles in it, drawing the face of her favorite TV show character. But when that drawing comes to life (as a floating head), Dany starts to discover something is special about the sketchbook—anything she draws in it comes true. She wastes no time inventing Madison, a beautiful, popular, cool best friend, who is the answer to all her problems. However, when Madison starts to realize she was just conjured up from Dany’s imagination, things go wrong, leaving Dany more lonely than before.

While this graphic novel has an intriguing premise that tweens will be drawn to, the story doesn’t quite deliver. It is a little messy and switches from scene to scene quickly without much explanation or transition. Dany is unlikable and it doesn’t feel like she learns much in the course of the story. She complains about not having friends, but really her best friends are still there for her—just in a different class schedule. There are other classmates who are obviously trying to befriend Dany but she seems to take them for granted because they don’t fit into her idea of the “perfect” best friend. Instead of feeling sorry for Dany, I was left feeling like she just didn’t appreciate what she already had, which was a group of supportive, understanding friends. The main conflict of the story isn’t a conflict at all, making the story feel pointless.

In the end, Dany saves the day and her friends tell her they always knew how great she was. There are no real consequences for Dany and how she behaved. While this story has potential, it falls flat. Dany seems to finally relax and enjoy the friends she has, but it feels like too little too late. Instead of taking universal emotions that all tweens have—feeling alone and friendless— and showing how to deal with that maturely, Gudsnuk’s graphic novel features an unlikable character and a deus ex machina ending.

I can see this appealing to tweens and teens, since the art and characters are similar to Raina Telgemeier’s, but ultimately I would suggest passing on this one as it doesn’t bring anything new or unique to the genre.

Making Friends
by Kristen Gudsnuk
ISBN: 9781338139228
Graphix, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12

  • Lisa

    Past Reviewer

    Lisa Clark has worked at the Kenton County Public Library (KY) since 2005. She’s done a little bit of everything including shelving, working at the reference desk, scheduling, graphic design, editing, grant writing, and more. Currently she works in the children’s department and maintains the collection by weeding and ordering materials. She also leads the adult writers group at the library and writes read alike recommendations for Novelist. With a BA in English Literature from Northern Kentucky University, Lisa has always had a passion for reading. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she likes to run, watch TV shows and movies with her husband, and listen to podcasts.

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