Mondays with Mira review of the fabulous Graphic Novel Skim
Skim, a graphic novel written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki is a startling glimpse into adolescence in today’s world. Kimberly Keiko Cameron, aka Skim, is a biracial, queer, would-be Wiccan attending a private girls’ school. She drifts on the edges of the school social scene as she works to untangle her life, thoughts and emotions.
Though they impact her deeply, each event and its ensuing aftermath seem to float around the periphery of Skim’s existence. A clandestine kiss with a teacher, the suicide of a popular girl’s ex-boyfriend, the superficial positivity in the community’s response, a crumbling friendship, explorations into a Wiccan gathering, divorced parents and geeky dates seem to happen at a distance as each experience unfolds. We experience the world through Skim’s outsider, detached perspective. Yet, her heartbreak and confusion is always painfully clear.
When reading the words and examining the illustrations, readers get the sense that they are only scratching the surface. There are layers upon layers of meaning waiting to be discovered as Skim opens her life and heart on each page. Nothing is obvious, readers must dig deeply to discover meaning. It is the kind of book one wishes to read in a class, or with a group to truly uncover the subtexts and ideas at the heart of Skim’s story. Like life – and particularly adolescent life – it takes time and deep reflection to understand all the nuances of experience.
Jillian Tamaki’s illustrations are done in a Japanese-influenced style in monochromatic colors. The line work is detailed, at once fine and bold, with strong white space in between. They layout of each page changes with the story as the art seems to be untangling itself with Skim’s journey through adolescence. The muted, yet detailed artwork reflect the story of deep layers written in an aloof teenage voice. They perfectly complement the depressed, dazed and distant feeling of Skim’s narration.
Skim is written in an authentically teenage voice while avoiding caricature-like clichés. It’s sensitivity to the realities of coming of age – friendship, sexuality, suicide, race, peer pressure, popularity – are portrayed in painful, touching and sometimes humorous ways. Readers experiencing these teenage struggles to readers reflecting on their past experiences will read this book over and over again, finding deeper meaning with each pass.
Dr. Mira Reisberg is an award-winning children’s book creative, a former kidlit university professor and a former literary agent. She is also the Director of the Children’s Book Academy and has taught many now highly successful authors and illustrators. Sign up here http://bit.ly/CBA-Tribe-SignUp to receive awesome goodies and special offers starting with a Fab Free deeper than most plotting worksheet called the “Make It Great Plot Template.” Wahoo!!!
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature the fabulous debut author/illustrator Maggie Brown.
And 5th Mondays will feature a surprise reprise from over nine years of archives.