Sunday, May 6, 2012

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Starting high school is a really big deal for Maggie because she has been homeschooled up until this point. She is overwhelmed by all of the other students and has no idea how to fit in and make friends. Maggie's mother has abandoned her family and her father is preoccupied now that he is promoted to police chief. Maggie's three older brothers provide some moral support, but mostly they encourage her to forge her own path. Even the ghost that has been haunting her for years is no help at all. (Oh yes, Maggie has a complicated life.)

Canadian comics artist Faith Erin Hicks has created some wonderful sibling dynamics in Friends with Boys. I really enjoyed getting to know Maggie's family as well as the two outcasts that befriend her at school. Maggie's brothers are rough with each other but teasing and tender with their little sister. In one scene, Lloyd tries to convince Maggie that she should style her two high ponytails into buns like Princess Leia. "It combines two of the greatest things in the world: science fiction and breakfast pastries." Another brother commands Lloyd to stop annoying Maggie, which he does under protest: "But I'm getting in touch with my inner hairdresser."

Hicks uses black ink on white with gray shading for her expressive artwork. Her distinctive, overlarge eyes melt my heart. See for yourself -- Friends with Boys is available as a webcomic here.

Grade 5 to adult. Readalikes: Smile by Raina Telgemeier; and Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol.

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