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Book Club Kits: Awkward

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don't get noticed by the mean kids. Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them. On her first day at her new school, Penelope--Peppi--Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she's already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the "nerder girlfriend." How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away! Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can't help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he's a member of her own club's archrivals--the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!  

Discussion Questions

  1. In the beginning of this story, Peppi was mean to Jaime because she was trying to avoid being singled out by the bullies on her first day. Have you ever been mean to someone for a similar reason?
  2. Peppi and Maribella take on a lot of responsibility by starting Comic Punch. Have you ever committed to a project, only to discover it involved a lot more work than you thought?
  3. Peppi is afraid to talk to Jaimie and apologize, so she draws him an apology comic instead. Sometimes, we can use something that we are good at to communicate a truth that is hard to speak out loud. Can you think of any examples of how you could use this in real life?
  4. It is hard for Peppi and Jaimie to be friends at first, because they are part of two very different groups at school. Do you think being part of a group is always a good thing? What are the benefits? The drawbacks?
  5. Peppi was envious of Maribella’s “magical go-getting confidence powers” at the beginning of the story. How does Peppi’s perspective change after she meets Maribella’s dad?
  6. When Maribella took the remote, Peppi didn’t know what to do. What would you have done if you were in the same situation?
  7. How is Jamie’s family different from Maribella’s family?
  8. This book talks a lot about how art and science can complement each other. What are some other interests that may seem different on the surface, but could work really well together?
  9. Who was your favorite character in the story? Why do you like them?


Art/Language Arts: Create a comic book page! You can also create a blog site using Blogger, Wordpress, or any teacher approved site (get an adult to help you with the initial setup) to host the comic strips.

Art/Science: In the story, Peppi created a scientific diagram of a mermaid for her science class as extra credit. Draw or sculpt your own example of a mythical creature, taking time to logically plan out its anatomy and biological functions, then label it.

Science: Jaime and the science club make all sorts of cool contraptions. Now it’s your turn! Using the following instructions, create your own homemade motor.

About Author

Svetlana Chmakova (1979- ) is an internationally published, award-winning manga author, with more than a dozen published books and her work translated into over 13 languages. Born and raised in Russia, she moved to Canada at sixteen years old to finish high school and trick Sheridan College into giving her a Classical Animation diploma.

Accidentally becoming a full-time artist and writer after that, Svetlana has drawn and written for animation, how-to-draw books, toy designs, and most of all, comics and manga. Thousands and thousands of drawings for comics and manga. SO MANY DRAWINGS... In addition to producing several manga series, Svetlana was a Master Comics Artist-in-Residence at Atlantic Center for The Arts (IT WAS AMAZING she wants to go back), a featured artist for the US-wide 2011 "You Are Here" Collaborative Summer Library Program, and to this day remains a skillful shirker of deadlines.

Svetlana is currently being published/endured by Yen Press, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company, and makes her home somewhere between Toronto, Canada and California. Her hobbies include eating, sleeping, buying far more books than she has shelf space, and riding the subway in the middle of the day, when it's half-empty, half-full of Very Interesting People.