So this review is out of my comfort zone. While on a weekend getaway I wandered into a bookstore and got several book recommendations, including Maria Scrivan’s Nat Enough. I asked about graphic novels and the owner steered me into the children’s section. I haven’t read any books directed at kids recently besides Harry Potter and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. It was a fun read, and seems unlikely to cause any parents to get into an uproar.
Natalie is starting middle school. She is an only child with loving parents, a dog and a cat. Her best friend Lily moved away during the summer but will be attending the same school. Natalie perceives herself as someone who isn’t good enough at any particular thing, doesn’t have enough style, talent, success or friends. But she has Lily. Imagine her surprise when Lily arrives at school with new friends and no interest in Natalie. Natalie goes to a great deal of effort to win Lily back as a friend. Needless to say it doesn’t go well.
Lily has made friends with the most popular girl in class. She has told Natalie she is a nerd. Natalie tries sports, dance class, a new hat, to no avail. She doesn’t make new friends in the process. Things get worse in science class. Natalie sits next to Millie, a bossy self-centered snot whose mother has made jello frogs for dissection in lieu of the real thing. She expects Natalie to do all the work and is in the process of complaining when she gets hit in the face with a frog. Luckily for Natalie the kids engage in a full on jello fight and class turns into a colorful mess.
Of course Natalie is smart. She’s in the Advanced Learning Program, and there she finds other kids who are kind of quirky and friendly. Of course she doesn’t recognize that these kids could be her real friends until they encourage her to do something she loves rather than trying to do things she doesn’t like. So she writes/draws a story, turns it in at the last minute and signs the story: Nat. The story is a success and Nat finds her own way, a new name and new friends.
Each chapter begins with an appearance by her dog and/or cat. They are humorous panels that add to the fun. While the message of “be yourself, you are enough” seems cliche, this is such a light way to get the message across. The drawings are great, the writing is good and Nat and her friends are presented in a loving way. Not sure what the right age is for this book, but this old lady enjoyed it.