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Making Friends

Review

Making Friends

MAKING FRIENDS is the latest book from Kristen Gudsnuk, who has previously brought us such young adult titles like MODERN FANTASY and HENCHGIRL.

MAKING FRIENDS is about Dany, a seventh grade girl adjusting to a new year at school. This year, however, she is transitioning from a comfortable elementary school existence to a new and frightening middle school one. As the name suggests, our protagonist is struggling profusely with making new friends in her new school, all the while being bullied constantly. Fortunately, her luck is about to magically change…

"Gudsnuk has tapped into a feeling that almost every child has had....Dany’s experiences will resonate with almost everyone."

Dany receives her deceased Great Aunt Elma’s sketchbook as her family squabbles over the rest of her aunt’s belongings. Dany soon finds out, accidentally, that this notebook has the ability to magically make real anything drawn in its pages. The story really begins after she draws to life a new best friend “from New York” and the unattached head of a television-show villain she ends up keeping in her locker for moral support.

Gudsnuk’s art is adequate for the story. While it will entertain a younger audience, it really feels rushed in parts and can be so simplified it almost looks childish. It is worth noting I received the advance copy, so it may not be the final finished work. The colors are wonderful, however, and really bring the characters off the page. The vibrant choices make everything a little more appealing. Gudsnuk also adds a ton of cute little touches like impossible sound effects, hilarious licensed product parodies and other random effects to make you love Dany and her world.

In the book, Gudsnuk has tapped into a feeling that almost every child has had. We’ve all tried and failed to be cool, make friends and get other people to like us. Dany’s experiences will resonate with almost everyone. As the story continues Dany comes to terms with her ability to create whatever she wants from a magical notebook while dealing with the surprisingly adult concept of creating life only to watch it wrestle out of the creator’s control. Through it all, she learns that being cruel to become popular isn’t who she wants to be and being happy with herself is the best way of making friends.

Reviewed by Michael Lee Harris on August 20, 2018

Making Friends
by Kristen Gudsnuk