Meet the *inspiring* May read for Chloe's Book Club: graphic novel Positively Izzy
Can you guys believe it's almost summer already? It feels like it was just yesterday when we kicked off Chloe's Book Club way back when in chilly February — but believe it or not, we're already introducing our fourth title!
If you're just joining us for the first time, here's the deal: Each month we’re reading, discussing and obsessing over a new book; so if you haven’t signed up already, be sure to CLICK THIS LINK and officially join the club. (We’ll email you with Chloe’s Book Club updates, reading guides, special contests and giveaways, event invitations and more.)
This month, we have a special guest host: Clara Lukasiak! That's right, Chloe's younger sister (and serious bookworm!) is joining the club as guest host all month long. From the commentary to the discussion questions to the party-planning guide, Clara is pretty much an expert on all things related to our May pick.
There's a *ton* of fun stuff to scroll through below — and it's a lot of info, so we've put together a quick list where you can find everything. Just remember, *major spoilers* are ahead, so look for the spoiler ratings before you read!
Our May installment of Chloe’s Book Club stars Positively Izzy, an inspiring and oh-so relatable comic-style book by Terri Libenson, author of Invisible Emmie. To get 15% off your copy, head over to Barnes & Noble and use the code chloereads at checkout (offer available through May 31, 2018). Pssst: Be sure to share this exclusive code with all the babes in your book club!
Ready to get started? Read on...
Spoiler level: Moderate
What happens when two middle schoolers decide to break the mold (and a few rules) and take major chances? The pure positivity and fearlessness that explodes over the pages of Positively Izzy. But this story—told in comics and freeform drawings from dual perspectives—doesn’t begin with Iz. First, we meet Bri…
Bri is what you might call “The Brain.” She lives for any academic challenge and *loves* a good test. It makes sense that she’s so smart, too, considering her mom and her dad are both teachers (her dad teaches biology while her mom, a theater lover, teaches drama). That doesn’t mean she necessarily likes being known only for her brains, though—sure, there are worse reputations to have, but she’d like to be seen as more than just someone who can write an A-worthy paper in a pinch.
Then there’s Izzy, a dreamer who couldn’t care less about her school assignments. In her perfect world, she’d devote her entire day to drama club and the one-woman sketch she wrote to perform at her school's talent show. The truth? She does wish she could do a little better in school, as does her single mom, an ER nurse, who’s constantly on her case about getting her grades up. Izzy would listen to her lectures, too, but it’s not long before she’s daydreaming again or running through lines in her head…
On the spectacularly hectic day of the talent show, the lives of these two seemingly disconnected teens converge in a completely unexpected way. After weeks of practicing, Izzy’s got her performance down pat and she's ready to show her classmates what she's got. So when getting grounded for an incomplete assignment puts a snag in her plan, she decides she'll do whatever it takes to get to school and into the spotlight...even if it means disobeying her mom and sneaking out of the house.
Bri, on the other hand, is content to simply sit in the audience—so long as her crush, Anthony, will be there, too. That is, until her mom asks a huge, last-minute favor of her: to participate in a skit with one of her classmates, Dev, a fellow “Brain” who just-so-happens to have heart-eyes for Bri. What starts out as a terrifying time turns into, well, actually kind of fun, and sparks something sweet between the unexpected scene partners. Even better? The opportunity gives Bri the chance to be seen beyond her smarts—because at the end of the day, she realizes, labels don't *actually* matter. When it comes time for Izzy to put her hard work into action, she wows the crowd, proving that there just might be a future for her in drama—if she can get her grades up.
Through comic style drawings and adorable spot illustrations, the author weaves together the stories of two middle-schoolers who are wildly different but surprisingly similar at the same time, and introduces us to a cast of characters—Dani and Ashley, Izzy's sisters; Iz's former (and maybe future) bestie, Becca; Bri's best friend, Emmie—that add layers of wonder and humor to this story about the power of taking big chances. Together, Izzy and Bri remind us that, in the end, being yourself is always best.
Spoiler level: High
My little sister, Clara, and I are super close. Even though there's a big age gap between us—she's 8 and I'm 16—we're the best of friends. And one of the things we've seriously bonded over is reading. I'm constanly recommending books to her, and she'll even suggest new reads to me, too!
Clara loved Invisible Emmie, so when we heard that the book's author was releasing a new book—Positively Izzy, of course—in May, it was a no-brainer to select it as this month's book club pick. I knew right away that I wanted Clara to get in on all the book club action, too.
And, boy, did this book spark a seriously fun convo between us...
Chloe: I'm so excited to chat about this book with you!
Clara: Me too! I had a lot of fun reading it, and all the comics and drawings were so cool.
Chloe: Same, it was nice to actually see the characters, especially the sisters. Their bond was so interesting. I think—well, besides the middle child aspect—the relationship between Dani, Izzy and Ash was super similar to you and me. I'm not a stern as Dani, but she and I are similar in that I'll help you with your homework, make sure you do your chores...
Clara: Oh yeah, Dani reminded me of you...but you're not bossy like her—you're helpful! Like you picked me up from school today and we went to get ice cream. Dani probably wouldn't have surprised Izzy with a trip to Taystee's.
Chloe: That's true, and you can't go wrong with chocolate chip cookie dough and mint chocolate chip.
Clara: See, I'm sort of like Ashley...I get away with a lot of stuff.
Chloe: Oh, totally. I'm the one who gets in trouble for everything, and then mom will be like, "Clara's 8. She's young. She's still learning." Like, I'm still learning, too!
Chloe: You're a bit like Bri too. You're definitely the brain and I'm like Izzy, she's super creative.
Clara: I'm totally a Bri.
Chloe: Like, you're probably going to be president some day.
Clara: Fingers crossed. That's the goal.
Chloe: It was cool watching Bri and Izzy in the talent show. I understood the stage fright Bri dealt with. It's so weird...I've been perfroming for years but I still get nervous before every performance.
Clara: But your performances are always so good!
Chloe: You don't get stage fright at all, which is so crazy to me.
Clara: I get a little nervous, but I get that performing is just for fun. And it's good to step out of your comfort zone.
Chloe: I feel like we've both been doing a lot of that lately.
Clara: Oh! I also wanted to talk about the setting of the book. I thought it was cool that a lot of the story took place in a middle school, 'cause that gave me an idea of what middle school would be like for me.
Chloe: If I'm being totally honest, I actually didn't really like middle school. But I think the best thing you can do is just focus on your school work, and not get wrapped up in negative energy. You've been confident since you were like born, though, so you'll be fine.
Clara: I'm excited for it!
Chloe: Woah, we also need to talk about the ending of the book.
Clara: It was *so* crazy. I was like, "Wait, what?!"
Chloe: Mom kind of spoiled it for us a little. I remember her being like, "Have you girls read this part yet?"
Clara: And we were like, "...no."
Chloe: It was such a fun story already and then adding that plot twist just made it even better. Reading and discussing the book with you was so much fun, too.
Clara: Yes! Can we do this every month?!
Spoiler level: Low
Here’s *exactly* how to throw an “Ice Cream Social” inspired by everyone’s fave neighborhood spot, Taystees.
SWEET SCOOPS: The best part of a party that’s all about ice cream? Eating it, of course! Set up a buffet so your friends have all the fixings they need at their fingertips to create a dreamy ice cream treat. Snag a few flavors like vanilla, strawberry, chocolate-chip (Izzy’s go-to!) and rocky road (Bri’s dad hearts it). Then, don’t forget the toppings. Grab sprinkles, whipped cream, chocolate sauce—Bri would *love* some yogurt-covered pretzels—and anything else your sweet-tooth desires. Have your guests craft creative confections of their own, just like the ones available at Taystees. Then go one step further and make this a monthly get-together, just like Bri and her family’s Sunday brunches!
DECOR: Time to get into the ice cream vibe. Before you set your ice cream buffet, throw a white plastic tablecloth down on your surface (makes for easy-peasy clean up!), then use sprinkles as confetti to decorate the table. Next: ice cream balloons. Secure brown paper cones to the bottoms of balloons using tape and attach short strips of brightly colored washi tape all over for sprinkles. Hang 'em around the room and you’re done!
DRESS CODE: Always wanted to rock a pair of punchy platform sneakers but never had the guts? Been dying to try that out-there updo you saw your fave beauty blogger rocking? Go for it! *Now* is the time to be bold and completely own it. Why? Stepping out of your comfort zone and taking on something totally new is scary, but just like Bri discovered, it’s 100 percent worth the risk—trust.
TO-DO LIST: Talent show time! Gather your friends in your living room and take turns showing off your skills. Whether you’ve got comedy chops like Izzy or some secret acting skills like Bri, it's time to step into the spotlight. Who knows, you and your friends just might discover a new love of performing!
Spoiler level: High
Use the questions below as a discussion guide for your Chloe’s Book Club party or as thought-starters for your own personal journaling. Posting online? Be sure to tag #chloesbookclub and @chloesbookclub. We can’t wait to hear what you think!
1. On page 38, Izzy reveals that her friend group—she, Hannah, Gabi and Becca—drifted apart last year after Hannah and Gabi moved away. While she hung out with Becca in sixth grade, they haven’t seen each other much in seventh. Now, she has what her mom calls “in-between friends,” like the pals she’s made in drama and the kids she talks to in class (well, when she’s not daydreaming). Have you ever dealt with a friend moving away? What emotions did you go through when they left? Have you and a friend ever drifted apart? How did you move past it and make new friends, *or* rekindle the friendship.
2. On page 58, Izzy is down on herself about not having good grades and remarks that she wishes she “was someone else.” Have you ever felt this way? Rather than actually wanting to be someone else, what do you think that—deep down—Izzy is really feeling?
3. On page 95, Izzy’s little sister, Ashley, suggests that Izzy sneak out of their house so that Izzy—who is grounded because she forgot to complete an important school assignment—can perform in the talent show. Having practiced for weeks, Izzy decides that she must go, so she sneaks out. It’s not long before her mom finds out and ultimately decides to ground her...but not until after the show. Do you think that sneaking out is OK? Would you ever sneak out? What’s the last thing your parents grounded you for, and do you think the punishment was warranted?
4. On page 128, Dev expresses to Izzy that he feels pressure from his parents to do well in school. What are your parents like when it comes to grades—are they super strict or pretty lax? How does that make you feel, and how does that affect your grades?
5. On page 143, Bri asks her mom (Mrs. D) the *real* reason why she wanted her to fill in at the talent show so badly, and she admits that it’s because she hoped it would allow them to spend more time together. It takes her mom a moment to admit this so it seems like this is a touchy topic for her, and that perhaps she’s jealous of the bond that Bri has with her dad. After their conversation, Bri feels guilty. If your parents are divorced, have you ever felt guilty about spending more time with one parent than the other? If so, have you tried talking to either of them about it? If your parents are together, do you ever feel guilty for having a closer relationship to one over the other?
6. On page 145, after sneaking out (and before getting caught by her mom), Izzy is waiting around for the talent show rehearsals to begin when she spots her former friend, Becca. Just then, she decides to ask her to hang out again, calling it “the day of taking chances.” What’s the biggest chance you’ve ever taken? Did it pay off? Have you ever passed up an opportunity and then kicked yourself for it later? What chance would you take if you knew you could not fail?
7. On page 163, Izzy and her family get into a heated argument where Dani, Izzy’s older sister, expresses how frustrating it is having so much responsibility. As the oldest, she has to be “the bossy one” and run the house while their mom works long shifts as a nurse at the ER. In turn, Dani barely has a chance to bond with Izzy and Ashley. During the argument, Izzy tries to put herself in Dani’s shoes. In doing so, she's able to see Dani’s argument more clearly. Think back to the last argument you had with your bestie, your sis, your mom —, anyone. How would putting yourself in their shoes have helped the situation? Have you ever put yourself in someone else’s shoes? Were you able to understand their argument better? How did it help the situation in the end?
This month, we're gifting one lucky winner with a ~delicious~ prize pack: a copy of Positively Izzy and its prequel, Invisible Emmie...plus, a gift card to Barnes & Noble *and* enough ice cream and toppings for an ice cream social with 15 friends! Yep, you'll be able to host the best book club party ever.
Ready to enter—and, fingers crossed, win? Here's how: 1) CLICK HERE to sign up for the Chloe’s Book Club newsletter (you must be on the newsletter list to win!). 2) Make sure you're logged into your GL account, then scroll down to the bottom of this post and click on the pink "Enter" button as many times as you want between now and May 31 at 11:59 P.M. EST. 3) We'll announce one winner right here on Monday, July 2. Good luck!
So you've read the book and you're ready to talk all things Positively Izzy? Wondering *exactly* how Chloe’s Book Club works and what it means to be a member? There are so many ways you can get involved—whether it’s solo, on social media or with your whole squad. Here's a quick list…
+ SOLO. Take your personal reading game to the next level by using Chloe's discussion questions as a guide for your own journaling and personal reflection. If you love to read, it could be fun to start a special book diary where you keep track of all your favorite novels—and the personal musings they inspired.
+ ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Share your thoughts on Positively Izzy using the hashtags #chloesbookclub and #positivelyizzy on Twitter and Instagram. (Just remember: You have to have a public account for us to be able to see and respond to your posts!)
+ WITH YOUR SQUAD. Host an IRL book club party, of course! Check out the "party-planning guide" section above for deets and ideas. (And don't forget to send us your cute snaps—we want to share them!)
And...that's it! Click the pink button below (you must be logged in) to enter the giveaway. Good luck, book clubbers!