Graphic Novel Review: “Making Friends: Back to the Drawing Board” by Kristen Gudsnuk

In the follow-up to Making Friends, Dany is still using her magic notebook to make life easier – or at least that’s what she’s trying to do, though most of her creations only seem to make life more complicated.

Her latest exploit is making a clone of herself to help her deal with the social obstacle course that is middle school, but it’s not exactly easy to explain “Cloney” to her friends. Things get more complex when Dany learns that she may not have been the only one to inherit something magical from Aunt Elma… and that she’s not the only one having a hard time keeping magic under control.

I really enjoyed Making Friends, and I’m happy to report that the sequel is equally delightful. One of my favorite things about these books is the way that Gudsnuk manages to truly evoke the busy, wacky randomness that so epitomized middle school humor for me.

The frenetic chaos that Dany manages to mire herself in using her magic sketchbook feels really true-to-life for how a seventh grader might choose to use such powers as they attempt to cope with the harsh realities of mean girls and too much homework. (Did I mention that the clone lives in a “Pikkaball” and that Dany distributes free mind-wipe T-shirts whenever she worries that someone is onto her?) My first thought when I finished reading was, “That book was INSANE!” followed quickly by, “That book was awesome.”

Amidst the fun of the chaos, Gudsnuk manages to do a great job of depicting Dany’s inevitable reckoning with the consequences of her magic; you can bring only so many wacky sketch-creations to life before other people start to notice. Friendship, too, is an art that Dany is still trying to master – but she’s getting better at it all the time.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Scholastic, for review.