Two Girls. A Talent Show. Big Problems.


It’s almost time for the school talent show, and everyone is excited… well, almost everyone. For two students who are polar opposites of each other, it will be the day that changes their lives.
“Positively Izzy” by Terri Libenson tells the story of two girls, Brianna and Izzy, and the effect that Lakefront Middle School’s talent show has on them and their families.
Izzy — that’s not her real name, but everyone started calling her that because of a joke she made when she was little — loves art, theater, and creative writing. Labeled as “The Dreamer”, Izzy has a vivid imagination but struggles to focus (all her teachers use that same word) in school.
Brianna — she goes by “Bri” — is labeled as “The Brain”. Despite being the daughter of Mrs. D, the new drama teacher who everyone loves, Bri is nothing like Izzy or her mother. She does well in school and is very serious about her studies, but absolutely hates acting.
Despite Bri always saying she doesn’t want to join the drama club — even after her mom’s persistence — she learns that one of the actors in the talent show got sick and she would have to take her place!
Fortunately, her mom said it’s just a short, simple piece… or not. The script is five pages long, very dramatic, and she only has a few hours to memorize it!
Bri starts to panic at first, but gains a bit more confidence after learning that she’ll be doing the scene with Dev Devar, one of her classmates.
Meanwhile, Izzy is all set for the comedy skit she’ll be doing. She had her clothes picked out the previous month and has all her props ready. But when her mom finds out about another late assignment that Izzy had, she’s banned from going to the talent show.
Everything seems hopeless for Izzy until her younger sister, Ashley, offers to help her sneak out. Izzy accepts the offer, but although Ashley planned for almost every possible outcome, she’s still scared that her mom and big sister Dani will find out.
Bri and Izzy both go to the same school, are (seemingly) in the same talent show, and there are a lot of parts in the story suggesting that they see each other’s skits. However, the two girls never actually interact with each other… at least not in the way you might expect.
Libenson does a great job of expressing the main characters’ thoughts and emotions in the book. She does an even better job at keeping the secret behind the story hidden until the very end. The graphic novel alternates between the girls’ points of view and switches between two styles of writing as it does so: when Bri is narrating, it’s more like a comic, and when it switches to Izzy, it changes to be mostly in writing with a picture every few sentences.
Unlike what the title suggests, I felt like the book mostly focused on Bri.
It’s pretty short and easy to understand, so I would recommend this book for kids ages 9 to 13.