Saturday 5 February 2022

Truly Tyler

Truly Tyler by Terri Libenson (Harper Collins Publishers, US) Juvenile Fiction/Graphic Novel $17.99 978 0 062 89456 0

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Truly Tyler is a book that instantly captures a reader’s attention with its great dialogue and illustrations that give it a strong authentic voice. This story explores being truest to yourself and learning to trust your truest friends in those tricky middle school years.  All you want to do is fit in but if you change who you are will you be ever be happy?

Terri Libenson is the famed creator of international comic strip series The Pyjamas Parties. She is also an award winning humour card writer for American Card Corps. She grew up as a shy, artistic child so a lot of Terri Libenson is in both Tyler and Emmi the main characters in Truly Tyler. The themes of clichés, crushes and middle school are explored with such honesty and heart. The words and images play well together and seamlessly deliver strong emotive responses. We all want to fit in and Tyler is the cool dude who is awesome at basketball but he has a tender side that loves art and authentic friendships. He tries to juggle all of those balls when he is paired in art class to do a project. He is surprised at how much he likes not only doing the art project but working with Emmie. When you love doing something you get immersed in it and so he turns up to basketball training late and his game goes off. His friendship group is strong but they are the alpha crowd, puzzled by his interest in Emmi. Emmi has a crush on Tyler and thinks and questions everything. Emmi feels she not good enough to be with someone like Tyler and tries to change herself. I won’t tell you how it plays out but the storyline gathers you in tight and you don’t want to put the book down. The language in the book is spot on for this age group.

Terri Libenson’s illustrations are full of movement, expression and capture those icky feelings beautifully. Those awkward situations are played out like a movie at times and all the uneasiness of a situation speaks clearly. The text and images are powerful and give this story impact and make it easy to read. 

This is a great book for 8 years plus that will find its way onto many shelves. It is an engaging book that helps a tween know that they are not alone in what they are going through as they find their way in this tricky world. Truly Tyler is a book that parents and teachers alike will appreciate but is especially for those of us that feel different and want to fit in. Being yourself is the best thing that you can ever do.


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