Book Review: Doodles from the Boogie Down by Stephanie Rodriguez
A young Dominican girl navigates middle school, her strict mother, shifting friendships, and her dream of being an artist in this debut coming-of-age graphic novel inspired by the author’s tween years.
Eighth grade in New York City means one thing: It’s time to start applying to high schools! While her friends are looking at school catalogs and studying for entrance exams, Steph is doodling in her notebook and waiting for art class to begin. When her art teacher tells her about LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, Steph desperately wants to apply. But she’s in the Bronx, and LaGuardia is a public school in Manhattan—which her mom would not approve of. Steph comes up with a plan that includes lying to her mom, friends, and teachers. Keeping secrets isn’t easy, and Steph must decide how far she’ll go to get what she wants.
Doodles from the Boogie Down is a sparkling semi-autobiographical middle grade graphic novel debut set in the early aughts that’s perfect for fans of Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm and Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham.
Loved this! I am so into the category of graphic novels that are autobiographical or semi-autobiographical. Just across the board, I enjoy them. And so do kids! It’s an extra point of connection with a story—this is stuff the author/illustrator experienced!
There is so much in this story to enjoy. Steph is in 8th grade and has to think about what high school to apply to. She’s super into art and would love to go to LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, but her mother doesn’t want her in a public school (for reasons from her own past) or in Manhattan. Her mother also doesn’t think art is a practical interest. But Steph is good at it! And passionate about it! Thank goodness for her art teacher at school, who takes a special interest in helping Steph explore the art world more while she puts together a portfolio. As Steph leans more into her interests and starts to figure out more about who she is and what she values, her tight friendship with her two best friends starts to change. They’re all about to go separate ways into high schools, so that change was probably coming anyway, but all of a sudden, things are different. They work through it, but it’s not fun or easy. Then again, neither is growing up. It’s a lot of mistakes, learning, hurt feelings, and constant change. And that’s okay. That’s the big takeaway from this book. Become who you are, find your way through the noise, and hope that those around you can appreciate your changes and grow with you. I hope to see so much more from Rodriguez; she’s a new instant favorite for me.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 04/25/2023
Age Range: 9 – 12 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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