Happy Monday, guys!
It's a total joy to review Frazzled for MMGM today, since I've had the pleasure getting to know Booki over the past two years, and watching her art evolve and take on new life.
Abbi's journey is adorable and smart, and something I'm absolutely looking forward to sharing with the young readers in in my life.
MMGM is a feature hosted by (fabulous) author Shannon Messenger on her blog every week!
Expected publication: September 27th 2016 by HarperCollins
Format read: ARC via publisher
Using a mix of snappy dialogue and enchanting illustrations that will delight and amuse readers of all ages, Vivat proves that the challenges of school are universal, but there are friends and family who will always help you figure it out.
Abbie Wu is in crisis—and not just because she’s stuck in a family that doesn’t quite get her or because the lunch ladies at school are totally corrupt or because everyone seems to have a “Thing” except her. Abbie Wu is in crisis always.
Heavily illustrated and embarrassingly honest, Frazzled dives right into the mind of this hilariously neurotic middle school girl as she tries to figure out who she is, where she belongs, and how to survive the everyday disasters of growing up. With Abbie’s flair for the dramatic and natural tendency to freak out, middle school has never seemed so nerve-racking!
Packed with hilarious black-and-white illustrations and doodles throughout, Frazzled takes readers through Abbie Wu’s hysterical middle school adventures.
Case in point: the upcoming Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom by debut author Booki Vivat. Vivat intermixes gorgeous black and white illustrations that are reminiscent of Bill Waterson, into an intelligent and funny tale about middle-child Abbie Wu's first year of middle school.
Abbie suffers from a typical case of middle-child syndrome, growing up in the shadow of older brother Peter. So when she starts middle school, she begins struggling with the ups-and-downs of fitting in. But Abbie soon learns that she - like her big brother - has a knack for standing out...
There are so, so many things to enjoy about Frazzled, beginning with the fact that it's pretty much a middle grade novel and graphic novel, rolled into one. Vivat deftly balances her illustrations with the text, which means that it's about 50/50 for both, when used to tell the story.
While this may be a bit of an adjustment for some readers at first, Vivat packs so much emotion, feeling and movement into each illustration, they not only feel like a work of art, but do an extraordinary amount toward furthering both the story and character development. I actually felt like I got to know Abbie better (and in a shorter amount of time!) than a traditional non-illustrated novel, because Vivat so thoroughly immersed me in her world.
Outside of the illustrations, Abbie's journey is a hilarious and relatable one, accentuated by both her middle-child status, and her Asian-American background. Vivat has a knack for picking out universal moments that readers of all ages will relate to, including the cringe-worthy moments of Abbie being asked if she's related to her older brother and also, her mom's desire to feed her fish and the grape fruit roll-ups, despite Abbie's obvious lack of interest.
Consequently, readers will delight in Abbie's creative way of solving some of her problems, and how her efforts help level the playing field for younger students. Though things don't necessarily go according to plan, Vivat's characters subsequent reactions to Abbie's efforts - including a touching sibling moment - nicely show how despite the ups-and-downs of school, things will undoubtedly be okay.
Of special note for parents/educators: Though I think the book does have universal appeal, it should be noted that Vivat's middle school is 6-8, and Abbie is going into sixth grade. So it does skew somewhat younger than some other MG titles.
With Frazzled, Vivat shows that she's also an up-and-coming talent in the writing world, as well. Abbie Wu's forays into her first year of middle school is a hilarious and genuine one, full of the fears, thoughts and genuine victories, which will have every reader recognizing a bit of themselves in Abbie's world - all with beautifully creative illustrations, to boot.
Frazzled is the type of book that demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt why the We Need Diverse Books movement is so important. If it means we can get more stories like Vivat's, it's a step in the right direction. Highly recommend, full stop.
About the author:
Booki Vivat has been doodling somewhat seriously since 2011 and not-so-seriously since childhood. She grew up in Southern California and graduated from the University of California, San Diego. She currently works in publishing and lives in Brooklyn, New York. This is her first novel. Visit her on Instagram @bookibookibooki and Twitter @thebookiv.