Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

real friends

Publisher: First Second (May 2, 2017)
ISBN: 978-1626727854
Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7+
Lexile Measure: 290
Starred Reviews: School Library Journal and Publishers Weekly
My Goodreads Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Summary and Thoughts: 
This graphic novel is a memoir from Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale’s elementary school years. This book highlights Hale’s struggles as she tries to navigate the social world of cliques. Best friends since they were little, Shannon and Adrienne were inseparable. In Shannon’s eyes they are opposites though, because Adrienne is more of a popular perfect girl and Shannon is geeky (see illustration below).  Their friendship soon is to be tested when Adrienne starts hanging around one of the most popular girls in school and becomes part of “The Group”. Shannon wants to also be a part of this clique but does not really fit in because the girls in this group will do anything, including bullying, to be a part of it. The book continues as Hale takes the reader through her journey of finding real friends and becoming true to herself.

I really enjoyed Hale’s memoir and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. It breaks my heart to see girls act like this to each other and could identify with the struggles that Hale faced in this book.  My youngest daughter faced a similar situation in 3rd grade. She was also being bullied by a group of girls and it continued up until the principal got involved. After which, they all were super sweet and wanted to be best friends with my daughter but who wants friends like that?!? It is unfortunate that this kind of behavior happens and hopefully those who it is happening to can take solace in Hale’s memoir that they are not alone.

Back on a lighter note! I can’t imagine any better artwork to grace Hales’ story that that of LeUyen Pham. Just check out the awkward and funny snapshots of Shannon’s juxtaposed against her seemingly perfect friend, Adrienne’s! I especially adore her vibrant color palette.This is a great book for both elementary and middle-graders, especially for those who do not feel like they fit in. Fans of Telgemeier should also enjoy Real Friends. This book would make a great read for a tween book club or even create a “Kindness Club” for tweens. A fun project to do could be to paint rocks for “The Kindness Rocks Project”.

Graphic Novel Autobiography Read-alikes:

  • Smile by Raina Telgemeier
  • Sisters by Raina Telgemeier (semi-autobiographical)
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel

Fictional Graphic Novel Read-alikes:

  • Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson
  • Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
  • Brave by Svetlana Chmakova
  • All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
  • Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm

Check out this great resource from Macmillan Publishers, “Real Friends Event Kit and Activities”.   I can see utilizing this in a school setting or maybe for a library tween book club!

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 10.30.42 AM

Check out the book trailer from Macmillan Publishers:


2 thoughts on “Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

  1. Tara,
    This book blog looks great! I’ve read Real Friends and I really enjoyed it, your read alikes are spot on too! I’ve read most of those books too and I think younger audiences who enjoy Real Friends will also really enjoy your book recommendations.
    Shannon Hale’s official website would be a great resource for readers who enjoyed her story and writing. I always find it interesting to find out more about the authors I read and I think children would find it interesting as well. This article might also interest readers too….


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