If strawberry lemonade was a book (or more accurately a graphic novel) it would be Skip!: A Graphic Novel by Sarah Burgess. Let me explain. First, I am thirsty and for some bizarre reason strawberry lemonade sounds really good so I used it as my metaphor. And second, it was something that was familiar and different, and it sounded like it would be both sweet and tart; sassy, with life, and with character! Which is what Skip! is.
The story is familiar (new best friends Jay and Beah start to have a serious case of the Friendship Blues when their individual likes start to clash and Jay starts feeling stretched too thin for their own sanity and health). Yet, there are parts to make this fresh and fun. Those include Double Dutch as a sport (there are a few notes on the rules and even history of the game, plus lots of showing the moves, even if sometimes the illustrations could feel abstract), the diversity of the characters is the norm and not an issue (the only real time we hear anything is when Jay, talking about their feelings about their anxieties and confusions, mentions they can’t even make up their minds if they are a boy or girl), and the focus is on what we need to move the idea of coming into your own, learning to say no to friends, and supporting each other, even if your paths do not go in the same direction. If I have an issue it is that the characters are not as “fleshed out” as they could be (especially the supporting cast) with their personality and backgrounds, yet we have a good picture of who they are. Even if the characters themselves are still learning that lesson.
Cute artwork that allows for a lighter tone, but does not get overly sugary, just a bit “bubble gummy” or a little bit of strawberry when it has sugar added to it. There are colors up and down and all around, which become their own detail as the physical ones can be minimal. But I like them with their cozy and energetic feel.
Read via an online reader copy (due early November 2023), it is a light story, that maybe isn’t touching new ground, but it is representing readers.