Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel Drama received praise from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, the Washington Post and The New York Times. But these starred reviews couldn’t save it from being challenged at a Texas elementary school. In author Mike Jung‘s new video, you’ll find out why it’s such a treasure.
Ranked No. 10 on the Office for Intellectual Freedom’s list of most challenged books in 2014, Drama follows middle-schooler Callie and her adventures as the set designer for her school’s production of “Moon over Mississippi.”
Drama was challenged at Chapel Hill Elementary School in Texas for being “sexually explicit,” but Jung — author of children’s books Unidentified Suburban Object and Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities — claims that’s a “strange” accusation, explaining that the book is about middle school crushes. Instead, the focus for the complaint seems to be that the book features a gay character, and two boys share a chaste kiss onstage. Reviews on Amazon in 2015 reflect the opposition.
Jung said he shares a connection with the book because like Callie, he was part of the stage crew for theatrical productions in school.
“One of the things that I love about this book, ‘Drama,’ is that while it is very much about middle school crushes, it’s also really about creativity … There are things you can do to realize your full creativity.”
He also admires Callie’s willingness to immerse herself in her theater community. In high school, Jung said he was too scared to try out for plays.
“It’s something I had a lot of trouble with back then,” he admits. “A sense of belonging … that feeling eluded me then and it eluded me pretty much my entire life until I started writing children’s books.”
Jung said that if Drama was banned from his middle school library — a place where he received most of his books — he might not have picked it up himself; he needed a “wise librarian” to recommend it to him.
Need more Drama? Check out more virtual read-out performances of the novel.
Want to bring Drama to your library or classroom collection? Review the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s resources.