Today Annie and I will be reviewing the graphic autobiography of Mark Tatulli: Short and Skinny.
The story follows a boy into middle school where he wrestles with typical middle school drama: body image, bullies, crushes, and struggling to find his own place.
Me: Did you like the title of this? Would you have called it something else?
Annie: The Summer of Star Bores.
Annie: Because that’s like, the main thing. He makes a joke movie based on Star Wars. All with his friends and family and stuff. It’s really neat. I’d like to see it but I don’t like Star Wars. Whatever. It was based on a true story.
Me: Did you like that?
Annie: Yeah! It’s more interesting to read about people who are real. Like, real life people.
Me: Who you would like to meet from this book?
Annie: The bike. No. Um… none of them.
Annie: I’m kidding! The main character. He makes movies like I do. I just made one! But mine is a documentary, not a parody, like in the book. My documentary is about Jorgen.
|This is Jorgen, Annie’s cat. I’m not really sure how she is going to make a documentary of him though, because this is pretty much all he ever does.|
Me: Was there a lesson you think the author wants you to take away?
Annie: He didn’t give up at all. Even though making his movie was really hard and expensive, he never gave up. It’s hard to be in middle school and you want to give up sometimes. But he never did and that’s important.
Me: What’s something you never gave up on?
Annie: Learning Japanese.
Me: You JUST started!
Annie: And I haven’t given up!
We are a household that loves the graphic novel format, so when I saw this biography, I knew it would be a good fit for us. The art style is clean and uncomplicated, but still visually interesting. As in many biographies, however, where childhood is reflected on using the lens of nostalgia, the ending was a little too sweet for my personal tastes. After the story, there is a brief epilogue with a “where are they now” catch up blurb for each of the main characters. I used this an an opportunity to show Annie that the author, whose love of animation and videography began in in middle school days, never gave up on his dreams and continues to professionally draw, write, and produce.
The main character, Mark, struggles with body image issues as he is, as the title implies; “short and skinny.” He tries several quick fixes before finally coming to the realization that being short and skinny isn’t awful. Sometimes it has its advantages. Sometimes, even, the short guy saves the day.