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Cover image for Positively Izzy
Positively Izzy


First edition.
New York, NY : Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2018]
Physical Description:
220 pages : color illustrations ; 21 cm
General Note:
Chiefly illustrations, in both narrative book and comic book layout.
On the day of the school talent show, the lives of shy Bri and dreamer Izzy converge to create an event even more dramatic than either could even imagine.
Reading Level:
Ages 8-12.


Call Number
J GRAPHIC Libenson, T.
J GRAPHIC Libenson, T.

On Order



Award-winning comics creator and author of the bestselling Invisible Emmie Terri Libenson returns with a companion graphic novel that captures the drama, angst, and humor of middle-school life. Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Jennifer Holm, and Victoria Jamieson.

Middle school is all about labels.

Izzy is the dreamer. There's nothing Izzy loves more than acting in skits and making up funny stories. The downside? She can never quite focus enough to get her schoolwork done.

Bri is the brain. But she wants people to see there's more to her than just a report card full of As. At the same time, she wishes her mom would accept her the way she is and stop bugging her to "break out of her shell" and join drama club.

The girls' lives converge in unexpected ways on the day of a school talent show, which turns out to be even more dramatic than either Bri or Izzy could have imagined.

Author Notes

Terri Libenson is the cartoonist of the comic strip, "The Pajama Diaries." She developed her first comic strip, "Got A Life," which was distributed by King Features Weekly Service and was nominated for "Best Newspaper Strip" in 2014.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-This charming book tells parallel stories of two very different girls, using graphic novel format to follow studious, introverted Brianna and a mix of handwritten prose and illustrations for creative daydreamer Izzy. The girls prepare for their middle school's talent show, which turns out to be a pivotal moment in both of their lives. Fans of Libenson's Invisible Emmie will be delighted to revisit some familiar characters. Like the previous title, this tale features a clever ending in which the two girls' stories converge. Some may be frustrated that the big reveal doesn't come until the very last page, but the twist is a satisfying one that invites readers to turn back and revisit earlier chapters. Funny details of Brianna and Izzy's lives ring true as the author explores relatable topics such as middle school friendships, self-discovery, and family dynamics. Libenson stresses the importance of being true to oneself, and readers will root for the characters to succeed. VERDICT A strong purchase for libraries where realistic graphic novels are in demand.-Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

This follow-up to graphic novel Invisible Emmie (rev. 7/17) again alternates between two perspectives, this time those of Emmies best friend Brianna (a.k.a. The Brain) and artsy dreamer Izzy. Briannas story is rendered via large cartoon-panel drawings, and Izzys story is shown in smaller, border-free vignettes (final art not seen). Brianna is adjusting to the embarrassing fact that her mother now teaches drama at her middle school. Izzy is eager to perform in the schools talent show, but shes grounded after getting a zero in math; she defies her mother by sneaking off to perform in the show. Brianna, meanwhile, reluctantly agrees to step in for someone at the show; she overcomes her fear of performing (but not without angst) and connects with her mother in a new way. An unexpected twist at the books close, taking place at a family brunch, reveals a surprise about the books timeline, an emotionally rewarding discovery that wraps up the story lines with ease. Libenson captures middle-school dramasfamily, ?friendships, crushes, stereotypes, grades, self-discoverywith candor, fast pacing, and authentic, relatable characters. Positively satisfying. julie Danielson (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

This reader-friendly graphic/prose hybrid explores the lives of two very different girls who have an unexpected connection.Izzy and Brianna both, separately, navigate difficult middle school experiences. Brianna, whose story is told entirely in sequential panels, is studious, reserved, and a little lonely. Izzy, who tells her story in paragraphs broken up by illustrations, is an unreliable middle sister with a love for performance and a lot of indifference toward schoolwork. Izzy sneaks out against her mother's wishes to perform in the school talent show, while Bri's mother (also a teacher at her school) convinces her to fill in for a sick actor. Both girls juggle complex family dynamics, shifting friend groups, and boys in the hours leading up to their performances. The story is light but resonant for middle graders, with constant comedic asides in the illustrations. Both girls appear white (based on the color cover), with multiracial supporting casts, and both threads of the story skirt larger issues. The opening pages, in which Bri complains about labels, hint at a larger theme that recedes into the background as the two girls struggle with their interpersonal relationships. Readers primed by the back-cover blurb will spend the whole book waiting for the two stories to intersect, with a surprise reveal at the end that may call for an immediate reread.A solid, not particularly daring addition to the hybrid format for middle-grade readers, mixing drama with heart. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 9-12)

Booklist Review

Following a similar structure as Invisible Emmie (2016), Libenson's sophomore illustrated novel tells parallel stories of two middle-school girls struggling to find a way to fit in. Brianna knows she's smart, but she's starting to chafe against her nickname, the Brain. When her mom, the new middle-school drama teacher, asks her to perform a scene for the talent show, she agrees despite her serious case of stage fright. Meanwhile, Izzy has been practicing for the talent show for weeks to the detriment of her other school work but when her mom finds out she flunked an important test, she grounds her on the night of the performance. Sneaking out obviously isn't a great idea, but Izzy's determined to get her time in the spotlight. Libenson nicely touches on classic middle-grade tropes, such as shifting friendships, crushes, and developing confidence, while the combination of comics, which make up Bri's story, and sections of text with spot illustrations are particularly well suited to the themes. A poignant twist ending adds a heartening note to an already charming story.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2018 Booklist