With the humor and illustrative style of a daily newspaper comic, debuting creator Scrivan’s story of middle school minefields is gentle and timeless, if short on edge. After her best friend, Lily, moves out of their neighborhood, bespectacled Natalie Mariano is convinced that middle school presents a chance for the girls to rekindle their “two peas in a pod” friendship, despite signs that Lily has other plans—signs like the one Lily posts on Nathalie’s locker that reads “Natalie is a loser.” Lily’s tactics are cruel and hamfisted, but Natalie continues to pursue her, feeling confused and increasingly uncool. After stumbling through a series of humiliations (being compared to a dog, for one), Natalie embraces a more accepting friend group and her strengths as an artist and writer. The character archetypes and story arc will be familiar to anyone who has lived through adolescence, but for elementary schoolers staring down the barrel of late tweenhood, Scrivan’s colorful diagrams and playful imaginings may be just enough. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)
Named one of "the year's best [graphic novel] books" by The Washington Post
"Maria writes funny, Maria draws funny, and Maria does it with a ton of heart." Jim Davis, creator of Garfield
"What elevates Maria Scrivan's graphic novel is the refreshing honesty with which it approaches its subject matter. The tone is instructive but not preachy, as Natalie develops her talents as a cartoonist and discovers her individuality, which brings her not only the acceptance of others but, more importantly, self-acceptance." Financial Times
"With the humor and illustrative style of a daily newspaper comic, debuting creator Scrivan's story of middle school minefields is gentle and timeless." Publishers Weekly
"Scrivan's exuberant, comic strip-esque art and simple dialogue will entice a range of readers, who will relate to Nat's insecurities." School Library Journal
"[A] straightforward, heartfelt story." Kirkus Reviews
"This story of growing up is a perfect read for students new to middle school and those questioning where their talents lie." Booklist
Praise for Forget Me Nat:
"Scrivan's cartoony artwork is bubbly and colorful, making for another fun and thoughtful middle-grade graphic novel.” Booklist
"One of the highlights of the Nat series has been the way Scrivan brings her well-honed skills as a syndicated daily newspaper cartoonist to the drawing table... An absolute joy to behold." The Beat
Gr 3–6—"Enough is one of those words that looks like it's spelled wrong even when it isn't. Whatever it is, I don't have it." Pouring out her heart into her sketchbook, self-deprecating Natalie confides that she doesn't feel smart, athletic, or popular enough, but her tight friendship with Lily has bolstered her. But when the girls begin middle school, Lily finds a new best friend, and Natalie feels cast adrift. As she struggles to let go of her old friendship, she befriends new classmates and discovers hidden talents. Natalie's new buddies point out that Lily might not be a great friend to Nat, but it takes time for Nat to see this and to recognize the new friends she has made. Scrivan's exuberant, comic strip–esque art and simple dialogue will entice a range of readers, who will relate to Nat's insecurities. Each chapter starts with a quick comic about Nat's cat and dog, whose antics give hints about what will happen to Natalie. The narrative unfolds at a measured pace, but readers will find themselves turning pages to discover what happens. VERDICT Fans of Shannon Hale's Real Friends or Amy Ignatow's "The Popularity Papers" seeking another tale about the highs and lows of friendship will take comfort in seeing earnest Nat come into her own.—Jenni Frencham, Indiana University, Bloomington
Cartoonist Scrivan's debut graphic novel explores friendship breakups and coming in to one's own.
Bespectacled Natalie and her best friend, Lily, used to be "two peas in a pod." But after Lily moves, even though they both start at the same middle school, nothing is the same. Mean and dismissive, Lily has clearly dropped Natalie for their middle school's cool girl, but Natalie is desperate to win her back no matter what. Convinced she's "not enough" as she is, she tries everything from a new hat to suppressing her creativity. While she faces mild bullying from Lily and another classmate, a few newfound friends work unwaveringly to support Natalie in her journey to rebuild her self-esteem: "I've spent so much time thinking about what I'm not good at…that I never think about what I am good at." Both the illustration style and slice-of-life pacing have an early-2000s feel—think Amelia's Notebook rather than Raina Telgemeier. Natalie's first-person narration is so self-focused that secondary characters are exclusively there to contribute to her character development. Readers learn next to nothing about the internal lives of Natalie's kind new friend Zoe or her crush, Derek, both kids of color. (Both Natalie and Lily are white.) While this isn't unfitting—the premise is that this is Natalie's sketchbook—it makes for underwhelming representation.
Could pack more of a punch, but Natalie's straightforward, heartfelt story will still resonate. (Graphic fiction. 10-12)