Stargazing by Jen Wang is not only less controversial than other graphic novels from this publisher (which deal with issues such as transgender, being gay, and bullying) it is less controversial than their other book, Prince and the Dressmaker (known as PATD from now on). In fact, until I read the other books Wang has done, I did not realize PATD was theirs.
Once you see that, there are style similarities to Wang’s illustrations, but that where similarities end. The voices of both graphic novels are radically different. The ages they are geared toward obviously different (PATD is for strong 12 to adult readers, Stargazing a strong 8 to 12/13); the characters are pre-teens growing up, dealing with parents, friends and finding themselves in Stargazing whereas in PATD the main storyline features the issues surrounding gender.
And due to the traditional coming-of-age storyline, Stargazing was a bit flat. We have seen it before. The only thing that made Stargazing different from such stories as Real Friends by Shannon Hale is that Christine and Moon (the main characters) are Asian. Yet, that is never an issue. All the kids are different and there is none of the prejudices you would normally see with race. The only thing (until they get to know Moon) is a few rumors about Moon.
While there is not a lot of traditional action in PATD, there is a storyline that shows movement and getting from point A to point B. On the other hand, Stargazing has no action at all (outside of two fights Moon starts) and the climax happens without a lot of fanfare. It, like in real life, just happens. Which, I think, is the point. There are no flashy “car chases” in life. You get up, go to school, eat food, have friends, have hopes, dreams, fears and sometimes something happens that must be dealt with the best way we know how.
I read the readers copy, therefore there were only a handful of colored illustrations. The colors seem to be muted, but hopefully there will be some fun color to add to the story. And while there are a few “bumps” to Stargazing, it is a simple, realistic and just overall nice story about friendship. The afterwards of the authors own experience was a surprising, but welcomed, touch. Due out September 2019.