Review Blog

Mar 06 2017

Frazzled: Everyday disasters and impending doom by Booki Vivat

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HarperCollins, 2016. ISBN 9780062663665
(Age: 9-12) Recommended. Themes: Confidence, Brothers and Sisters, School Life, Emotions. Booki Vivat's debut novel Frazzled introduces the emotion-charged writings and drawings of Abbie Wu, a Chinese-American girl about to journey into the great unknown - Pointdexter Middle School. Abbie suffers from middle child syndrome, Peter her older brother is good at everything and he has all the trophies to prove it. Sweet six-year-old Clara is her confident little sister, a wonderful artist who is all ready to start kindergarten. Then there is Abbie whose anxiety is overwhelming her life; she believes 'nothing good ever happens in the Middles.' Even her mother brushes off her daughter's concerns, busy with being a single parent she does not really understand Abbie's anxieties.
Even her best friends are looking forward to middle school: actress Maxine is excited to join the drama elective and Logan is excited to hone his skills as part of the computer gaming and programming group. Abbie however is so concerned with her lack of talents - she is uncoordinated, prone to stage fright, tone-deaf and technologically confused, she believes that everything is hopeless.
Abbie's hopes and dreams of delicious school cafeteria lunches are crushed. While the eighth graders enjoy tasty meals, the rest of the school lines up to receive standard soggy vegetables and bland mystery meat meals. Without an elective choice, Abbie joins all the loners and troublemakers in study hall. Here, Abbie finally discovers her special abilities.
Vivat's fun pencil and ink illustrations perfectly display Abbie's emotional lows and highs. They are complimented by the expressive text sizes and styles ranging from bold and vibrant to tiny-labelled diagrams. The contrast of black and white explodes off the pages, especially when Abby pictures her school life as a gigantic black hole.
Booki Vivat's enjoyable novel develops well-being themes including self-esteem, growing in confidence, discovering your own talents and finding your own place in the world around you.
Rhyllis Bignell

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