I had a wonderful chance to read a new book by a new author yesterday: Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. Laura Lee is a 97 graduate of Osbourn Park HS, attended Marsteller MS and Coles ES. So, I was already inclined to enjoy the book by this local author. And, I know Laura Lee’s mom—we’re writing buddies and she’s kept me up to date on progress of the book as it’s developed. After I read the book, however, all I could think was Wow! And Thank you Laura Lee for an incredible read!
Page by Paige is a graphic novel….but so, so, so much more. First, the story is fabulous, especially for teen girls. The main character in the book, Paige Turner (her parents are writers) is a teen artist struggling to share all the sides of herself with her parents and friends. She’s scared, shy, sneaky, funny, loving, curious, brave and smart….and lives mainly inside her head. How’s a girl to share all that without coming across as too self-absorbed?! Through the story, Paige figures “it” out through art. First, she starts with a new best friend in the form of a sketch book and some art “rules” passed on to her from her grandmother. Then, as Paige begins to blossom…..she blooms bright in a way that solidifies friendships, leads to romance and a satisfying understanding of her relationship with her parents.
I’m a mom and teacher librarian who has been learning lots about graphic novels in the past few years. Most people unfamiliar with them see them simply as comic books….and to some extent they are. The artwork of graphic novels is very comic-book-ish. However, the artwork in Page by Paige is more expressive than typical graphic novel art. There is shading, attention to detail and depth that truly move the story graphically. My favorite graphic in the whole book is of Paige hugging her cat with what looks like thousands of arms….doesn’t hugging a purring cat just feel like layers of hugs (for us cat lovers, anyway). Another great moment is when Paige says she bites her tongue and shows what that really feels like----her ideas bleed out of the corners of her mouth.
Additionally, graphic novels contain all the elements of a novel such as: a story that holds from beginning to end, well developed main and supporting characters, plot, theme, chapters. Page by Paige delivers all of the above beautifully. Best of all, there is definitely room for a continuation of the story in an upcoming book. I want to know more about how Paige and where her sketch-book leads her.
You may be wondering who I think should read this book? I gave Page by Paige to my ten year old and twelve year daughters to read….it’s not so much for my 8 and 7 y.o. sons. Although, I won’t keep it away from the boys. If they want to read it, or more likely just look at the graphics, that’s fine with me. My ten year old is very much an artist at heart and as she read the book she “ooooohed” and “ahhhhhhed” over the fantastic way that Paige’s ideas are expressed graphically. That was fun for me to listen to as she read.
I have no problems allowing my daughters to read this book. However, I would categorize this book as a true YA book and will highly encourage 12-18 year olds to read it. The level of self-reflection and the honest description of feelings of this teen character are very much those of someone in 8th grade or older. There is no sexual content (outside of a couple of jokes spoken between characters)….it’s more because Paige is discovering her true self in a way that most pre-teen and younger readers just don’t get yet.
Reviewers are giving Page by Paige lovely reviews (see Page by Paige at Amazon.com). I'm delighted that the book has been well recived. It is a wonderful example of how important art is for artists and all of us trying to understand who we are as people. If all of us made friends with a sketch book, wouldn't the worldd be a better place? Page by Paige is an inside, truthful and positive look at how teens today are thinking and working to make their way in our world. I’m giving Page by Paige book two thumbs up and cannot wait for volume II to come out.
Gulledge, L. Page by Paige. New York: Amulet Books, 2011. Print.