Kyo Maclear and Byron Eggenschwiler (@byronegg) share OPERATIC, a graphic novel they made together. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that, as with making picture books, Kyo wrote OPERATIC’s story in words and dialogue and left space for Byron to tell the story through paneled illustrations. The story in OPERATIC centers on a girl named Charlie and her teacher’s assignment to identify a song to include in the “soundtrack of our lives”. Emile, Charlie’s classmate and, consequently, Charlie’s crush, is also searching, but not for a song. Luka has been missing from school, and no one’s quite sure why, but not many are searching on his account. And then there’s Maria Callas, renowned opera singer, who has her own story to tell. Where Kyo ties narratives together with thread, Byron maps colors to transition in and out of different stories for an effect that I felt showed great care for both the characters and the reader.
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ABOUT THE BOOK:
It's almost the end of middle school, and Charlie has to find her perfect song for a music class assignment. The class learns about a different style of music each day, from hip-hop to metal to disco, but it's hard for Charlie to concentrate when she can't stop noticing her classmate Emile, or wondering about Luka, who hasn't been to school in weeks. On top of everything, she has been talked into participating in an end-of-year performance with her best friends.
Then, the class learns about opera, and Charlie discovers the music of Maria Callas. The more she learns about Maria's life, the more Charlie admires her passion for singing and her ability to express herself fully through her music. Can Charlie follow the example of the ultimate diva, Maria Callas, when it comes to her own life?
This evocatively illustrated graphic novel brilliantly captures the high drama of middle school by focusing on the desire of its finely drawn characters to sing and be heard.
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