Emiko Superstar is a great read. It features a teen girl who finds her way to superstardom when she steps up to the mike at a local underground performing arts show called the Factory. Emi is looking to discover herself one summer, when all she’s got is a boring babysitting job in suburbia. This graphic novel traces her transformation, from geek supreme to spoken word queen.It’s the right book for all those who have ever felt on the outside and wished they could find their tribe.
I don’t feel super eloquent these days (end-of-school-year syndrome). So it’ll just have to be enough for me to say that the book is really well done. The illustrations manage to be clean and simple in style, while still incorporating details that enrich the story and characters. Just take a look at Emi’s facial expressions and you’ll be amazed at the range of feeling that the artist communicates. The family dynamic in Emi’s house feels completely believable too – the mom who is a bit overbearing/overprotective and the dad who is sweet and tries hard and actually gets stuff more than you might think. But it’s Emi that really seals the deal. She’s right there on the edge of discovering her inner coolness, her talent and her community. She’s the kid you might not have noticed in high school who was actually destined to be this amazing artist. You’ll recognize her.
There’s a quote on the back that feels pretty important to the overall aim of the book, “Not often, but every once in a while – amazing stuff happens to former geeks.” I must say, that I have to disagree on that. I think almost always, amazing stuff happens to former geeks. Emiko Superstar celebrates geek power, with style and subtlety. Guess that’s why it won this year’s Cybils Award in the YA Graphic Novel category. Read it. Write some poetry. Find your own underground arts scene and take to the stage.