Becoming Brianna [released 5/5]

Written & Illustrated by: Terri Libenson 

For ages: 8-12 years

Language: English, some Hebrew. 

Topics Covered: Jewish Culture, Judaism, Bat Mitzvah, Growing Up, Friendship, Anxiety, Bravery, Family, Single-Parent Families, Divorced Parents, Financial Strain, Own Voices. 

Summary: 

Brianna is about to have her bat mitzvah, and she can’t quite seem to remember why she let her mom guilt her into it.  Brianna doesn’t speak Hebrew very well, and she hasn’t gone to a private Jewish school in a few years, or even to the synagogue for classes.  She also doesn’t like attention all that much, and is having a lot of anxiety about it.  It also addresses important topics that many of us have experienced but don’t often see in books like divorced parents, shared custody, and financial strain.

We really enjoyed this graphic novel, it’s so rare to find one about a big life event like a bat mitzvah!  Brianna is a smart and funny feminist spitfire, which we couldn’t get enough of.  She isn’t afraid to question her own beliefs, and raise religious questions that she has during her study preparing for the big event.  Neither of us are religious at all, and I really love how openly the book addresses feeling unsure about commitment to a religious community.  It’s a very realistic representation of growing up, and all of the anxieties that come with agreeing to something months in advance that a person might not be completely onboard with.

This book was kindly sent to us by HarperCollins, but all opinions are our own! This graphic novel is being released on May 5th.

About the Author & Illustrator:

DSC_0001-square-300x300Terri Libenson (pronounced LEE-ben-son) is a bestselling children’s book author and award-winning cartoonist of the syndicated daily comic strip, The Pajama Diaries, which ran from 2006-2020. She was also an award-winning humorous card writer for American Greetings.

Terri graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BFA in illustration and a minor in art history. She developed her first professional comic strip, Got a Life, in 2000, which was distributed by King Features Weekly Service. The Pajama Diaries launched with King Features in 2006 and ran in hundreds of newspapers internationally until its retirement in January, 2020. Pajama Diaries has been nominated four times for the Reuben Award for “Best Newspaper Comic Strip” by the National Cartoonists Society and won in 2016. You can read the Pajama Diaries archives daily on ComicsKingdom.

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