A 1989 summer trip to Europe changes Caldecott Medal winner Santat’s life in this graphic memoir.
Young Dan hasn’t experienced much beyond the small Southern California town he grew up in. He stays out of trouble, helps his parents, and tries to go unnoticed in middle school. That plan gets thwarted when he is made to recite poetry at a school assembly and is humiliated by his peers. When eighth grade is over and his parents send him on a three-week study abroad program, Dan isn’t excited at first. He’s traveling with girls from school whom he has awkward relationships with, his camera breaks, and he feels completely out of place. But with the help of some new friends, a crush, and an encouraging teacher, Dan begins to appreciate and enjoy the journey. Through experiences like his first taste of Fanta, first time hearing French rap, and first time getting lost on his own in a foreign country in the middle of the night, he finally begins to feel comfortable just being himself and embracing the unexpected. This entertaining graphic memoir is a relatable story of self-discovery. Flashbacks to awkward memories are presented in tones of blue that contrast with the full-color artwork through which Santat creates the perfect balance of humor and poignancy. The author’s note and photos offer readers more fun glimpses into his pivotal adventure.
Full of laughter and sentiment, this is a nudge for readers to dare to try new things.(Graphic memoir. 10-14)