If you have readers who are looking for more graphic novels like Raina Telgemeier's SMILE and DRAMA, then PEANUT is a perfect choice. Set in high school, but can be read by 12-13 year-olds as well- just be advised there are a few sexual conversations that take place. This realistic graphic novel focuses on Sadie and her doomed quest to become popular by faking a peanut allergy. Everyone can relate to the feeling of starting in a new place and hoping to become a new person too, cooler and smarter and without any former hang-ups. Sadie is no different. But she actually tries to make it work, by faking an extreme peanut allergy. She even orders a special ID bracelet and makes a point of telling everyone at her new school. It works, at first, and she even meets a super cute guy who has his own way of standing out-he doesn't have a cell phone! Sadie starts to settle into her new world, but her lies get harder to keep up with, and when she causes a major event at school because everyone thinks she ate a peanut, everything finally comes spilling out and Sadie has to start all over, but this time she can't hide her past from anyone. Sweet and relatable, Ayun Halliday's text is authentic and engaging. Ultimately, like many graphic novels, this one feels rather slight, but girls will still gobble up this story of a girl just like them. Paul Hoppe's spot-on illustrations are rendered in grey-blue with pops of hot pink on Sadie's outfit. With dynamic panels and tons of teenage expressiveness, each character comes to life as a unique and memorable friend. Here's hoping we'll be seeing more strong graphic novels like this for middle grade readers!
--Reviewed by Julie of Books Inc. Laurel Village