Though handled with equal seriousness, the themes in Skim, written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki (they're cousins), are aimed at teen readers. But that doesn't mean the book is free of emotional struggles. It opens with a broken arm and moves right along to teenage suicide, followed by possible gay crushes on teachers, best-friend betrayals and standard adolescent identity crises. The writing takes the form of a diary kept by 16-year-old Kim, nicknamed Skim ("because I'm not," she explains). The elegant illustrations call to mind traditional Japanese art but with a modern looseness; the drawings aren't always confined to panels, and key plot points are shown subtly, never exaggerated or over-explained. In other words, despite its hot topics, Skim is pretty cool. Copyright 2008 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Fall
This stunningly emotional graphic novel charts a season of change in the life of brooding misfit Kim. The story's threads connect and diverge in equal measure, coexisting in an artfully true-to-life jumble told through dialogue, internal narration, and diary entries. Delicate-lined art achieves layers of meaning; dark space and perspective are also used to great effect, grafting emotion onto every scene. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #4
This stunningly emotional graphic novel charts a season of change in the life of Kim (nicknamed Skim "because I'm not"), a thoughtful, brooding misfit facing questions of life, death, friendship, and identity. Kim's sole friendship gradually crumbles; her surreal smoking breaks with Ms. Archer, the young, dramatic English teacher, evolve into unsettling romance; and a suicide rocks the all-girls school she attends. The narrative also touches, though doesn't dwell, on Kim's exploration of Wiccan spirituality and the issues she faces as a biracial teen and a child of divorced parents. These many threads connect and diverge in equal measure, coexisting in an artful jumble that is as true-to-life as it is diffuse. The free-flowing combination of dialogue, internal narration, and diary entries is unfussy and immediate, and the delicately lined art alternately expands and contradicts the prose to achieve layers of meaning, tone, and irony. Dark space and perspective are used to great effect, grafting emotion onto every scene, and the simplest details of body language -- Kim's creased brow and hunched shoulders; Ms. Archer's serene, vaguely secretive countenance; a new, wounded friend's pinched mouth and suspicious eyes -- project fully developed personalities. With honesty and compassion, this innovative narrative communicates a life just beginning, open and full of possibility. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2008 February #2
A quietly moving graphic novel explores a teen girl's experience with friends, suicide, cliques and love. Both overweight and of mixed ethnicities, Kimberly Keiko Cameron--also known as "Skim" because "she's not"--is slowly moving through high school with her best friend Lisa. Both sharply witty and incisive, the two girls dabble in various forms of self-expression and exploration, like dressing with Gothic flair and trying Wicca. The two girls come to an impasse when Lisa gets an unexpected chance to join the popular clique. Coupled with her tumultuous friendship, Skim also harbors a crush on a female teacher, which leads her to begin to question herself and her desires. Long, languid lines portray Skim's turmoil and angst with pitch-perfect resonance and show how, for teens, time seems to be so drawn out. While Tamaki's faces are sometimes unsettling, the reader has the distinct impression that they should be uncomfortable. Recommend this to fans of Daniel Clowes's Ghost World, who have been waiting for another graphic novel of teen angst and suburban ennui. (Graphic novel. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2008 April/May
This graphic novel features Kimberly, a.k.a. "Skim," a student at a Canadian girls' school as she bounces from one adolescent trauma to the next. She wryly comments on her family, friends, teachers, and teen life in general. Lisa, Skim's best friend, is socially savvy and manipulative. Their English teacher is portrayed as a stereotypical free spirit, possibly gay, who plays on Skim's feelings of inadequacy. Katie, a classmate, and Skim discover they enjoy spending time together, and their friendship grows into something deeper. Much of this book is enjoyable. Skim is funny and deprecatingly self-aware. However, the language is raw and very graphic. The relationship between student and teacher is disconcerting. Any teen struggling with sexual orientation issues might find it reassuring to know that other teens struggle as well. Additional Selection. Julie Burwinkel, Library Media Specialist, Ursuline Academy, Cincinnati, Ohio Batten, Mary. Please Don't Wake the Animals. Illustrated by Higgins Bond. 2008. 32pp. $16.95 hc. Peachtree Publishers. 978-1-56145-393-1. Grades 1-3 © 2008 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Library Journal Express Reviews
A pudgy Asian American out-group teen tries on goth, checks out Wicca, and falls in love with her free-spirited English teacher, Ms. Archer. This portrait of intense high school experiences is crafted with well-tuned dialog and drawn in beautifully expressive pen and ink. A Doug Wright awardee, YALSA top ten winner, and Eisner nominee. With sexual references and swearing; for older teens up.-Martha Cornog, Philadelphia Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 February #1
This auspicious graphic novel debut by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki tells the story of "Skim," aka Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a goth girl in an all-girls school in Toronto, circa the early '90s. Skim is an articulate, angsty teenager, the classic outsider yearning for some form of acceptance. She begins a fanciful romance with her English teacher, Ms. Archer, while nursing her best friend through a period of mourning. The particulars of the story may not be its strong suit, though. It's Jillian's artwork that sets it apart from the coming-of-age pack. Jillian has a swooping, gorgeous pen line--expressive, vibrant and precise all at once. Her renderings of Skim and her friends, Skim alone or just the teenage environment in which the story is steeped are evocative and wondrous. Like Craig Thompson's Blankets , the inky art lifts the story into a more poetic, elegiac realm. It complements Mariko's fine ear for dialogue and the incidentals and events of adolescent life. Skim is an unusually strong graphic novel--rich in visuals and observations, and rewarding of repeated readings. (Feb.)[Page 44]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Gr 10 Up -Kimberly Keiko Cameron-aka "Skim"-is a mixed-race high school student struggling with identity, friendships, and romantic yearning. After her parents' divorce, she turns to tarot cards and Wicca to make sense of life but finds herself disappointed with the lack of answers they provide. She finds herself increasingly intrigued by Ms. Archer, her free-spirited English teacher. Her interest becomes obsessive and it begins to drive a wedge between her and her best friend, Lisa. Although Skim originally makes light of the half-hearted suicide attempts of popular Katie, whose ex-boyfriend committed suicide, the two of them begin to open up to one another. Skim soon realizes that "perfect" Katie is far funnier, more genuine, and more traumatized than she originally thought-particularly when it comes to light that John shot himself due to his homosexuality. Drawn in an expressive, fluid style and with realistic dialogue, this work accurately depicts the confusion of teenage years, with its rejection of previous identity and past relationships and search for a newer and truer identity; additionally, insider/outsider status is a reoccurring theme. Skim's internal monologue is diarylike, with an interesting use of "scratched-out" words. This is a good but somewhat standard work.-Dave Inabnitt, Brooklyn Public Library, NY[Page 160]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.