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Awkward (Berrybrook Middle School, #1)
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(Berrybrook Middle School #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  25,496 ratings  ·  1,845 reviews
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
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 21st 2015 by JY
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Svetlana Chmakova Hello, Kari, thank you for this question! There will be another Berrybrook Middle School book, yes, it is called "Brave" and I am working on it right…moreHello, Kari, thank you for this question! There will be another Berrybrook Middle School book, yes, it is called "Brave" and I am working on it right very now :) If you would like to find out more information about that and my other work, please visit my site at
Svetlana Chmakova It's primarily for ages 8-12 but I heard from 6-year-olds that read it and loved it, as well as from teens and adults.

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  25,496 ratings  ·  1,845 reviews

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Rachel Russell
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have enjoyed this author's books since her early series, DRAMACON. The intense rivalry between the art club and the science club was fun and exciting.
So freakin cute! This comic is very fun and impressive to me. The Art club girl and The Science club boy and their awkward fun story. This book just made me laugh a lot! Made me smile. Made me happy. The picture are very well done. So much love this! ><'
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: manga, middle-grade
I can't believe how cute, adorable, hug-worthy this book is. Especially with such a title. I think the ''awkward'' moments made things even more charming.

So this is Peppi's story, Peppi who thought she was prepared for middle school but realizes she may not have everything figured out. Peppi who makes the mistake of acting like a bully would on her first day, thus ruining someone else's first day.

But when she joins the art club and sees more of the boy she was rude to (who is part of the
First Second Books
Gina says:

One of the things I really liked about this book was how diverse it was.

It wasn’t just that the main character was diverse (though she is), but that the background characters represent a good mix of genders, ethnicities, and abilities – both at school and at home. It really felt like the author thought about every single character she put into the book and made them represent people from all around our culture – in a really seamless way.

Yay for that!

Calista says:

I read this book too!
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, graphic-novels
This charming graphic is shelved as YA but would be entirely appropriate for upper elementary. A sweet story about a diverse group of students who must learn to work together to arrive at a shared goal, this one has a positive message without being unrealistic or overly sappy. After the story, the author provides insight into character development and detailed information on the steps and hard work involved in creating a graphic novel (6-7 hours per page), as well as contagious enthusiasm for ...more
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fun, simple little story that was recommended to me by my child, who loved this book (read it repeatedly before telling me to read it.)
Penelope is the new kid at school who starts the year off by pushing a boy who's looked down on by others. She regrets her action, and spends several weeks attempting to deal with it. There is also ongoing drama between the after school art club (Penelope's a member) and the science club (the boy is a member). And something else I really liked about this story:
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Adriana by: Ivan
Hands down one of the best comics I've read all year!

Hilarious, thoughtful, and full of heart, Awkward showcases a wonderful array of genuine characters. This comic casually includes characters of color (many who are successful and/or in positions of power), a disabled mother (who is also fantastic and successful), multiethnic families, dysfunctional families, a wonderful discussion on the merits of art and science and whether they're truly opposites, and a boy-girl friendship that isn't
Mississippi Library Commission
We're going to be recommending this darling graphic novel to everyone we meet. Aimed at 8-12 year old kids, Awkward will appeal to teens and adults as well. There are so many things we loved about it: it's smart, it's funny, it's diverse in multiple ways, it's got art and science and geocaching, and it's downright adorable. Most of all, the characters reach out and grab their readers' hearts. We wanted to hug each and every one of them by the time we reached the very satisfying ending. Highly ...more
Jacob Proffitt
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
I just devoured this story. It's a comic, so a fast read, but I was just so charmed by it that I didn't want to put it down for even a moment. Chmakova so perfectly captures that age and the concerns and social dynamics. I really loved both the affection and clarity that engages memory, sympathy, and even a little healing by taking those awkward dynamics and illustrating a way through them that was both plausible and hopeful. It doesn't hurt, of course, that Peppi and Jaime are such wonderfully ...more
So adorable!

I'm glad I read the second book, Brave, first because it put this one into a more favorable context; I think I'd have been peevish in my reading had I not known what comes next. Awkward is a little awkward, it doesn't quite have its flow, yet. Everything that comes off so gracefully in the next book - diverse characters, middle-school problems, family problems - feel a little more forced, less organic, in this first volume.

Regardless, it's a great start, following the very likeable
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
I really liked this book. The characters were so diverse in diffrent ways. It was also very reflective of how middle schoolers act when boys and girls are friends. I loved all the people's relationships with their parents.
Melissa McShane
Svetlana Chmakova is one of my favorite cartoonists and a fabulous writer. I'm not sure if I love Dramacon Ultimate Edition or Nightschool The Weirn Books better, but now I'm certain Awkward will be one of my new favorites. She captures so perfectly the terrible awkwardness that is middle school, with all the fears and worries and pain. In her fear of being mocked, Peppi makes a huge mistake and embarrasses Jaime, whose only crime is trying to help her. Poor Peppi, unable to find a way to ...more
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series
This is definitely one of the best middle grade graphic novels that I've read. I loved the characters, the middle school setting, the conflict that arises between the two student clubs-science and art, and the glimpse at what it means to be a friend. As a teacher, the characters in the story display problem-solving skills and work on resolving their existing conflict. I know my grade 7 and 8 girls have really enjoyed this story as well. It probably would grab the attention of young girls in ...more
Compared to the second book in the series, this one is average. (Brave (the second book) is one of the best graphic novels I’ve read – honestly, it’s amazing READ IT NOW.) Awkward actually – well, the storyline is cliche. I got occasionally bored while reading it, but it was overall fun and a huge mood-lifter.

First – this is a spoiler, I guess, but it doesn’t really matter (in my opinion) – I’m so glad that Jaime and Peppi’s relationship didn’t get romantic. They’re good friends by the end of
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I can tell already I will need to buy an additional copy or two of this for my library. I'm definitely going to be recommending it to all the Raina Telgemeir fans. I thought this was a great graphic novel. There were a lot of things I liked about this beyond the story: the friendship between the main character and the boy whose name I forgot and that there weren't romantic overtones or worries; that one of the characters is in a wheelchair and it's never mentioned-it just is; that Penelope ...more
Adrienne Pettinelli
"Build things. Build friendships. Build yourself."
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely amazing! The characters are all diverse and three dimensional, each of them have a backstory and a personality. The main character,Peppi is amazing and is a very life like charcter. All of the other characters in the art and science club are absolutely amazing and I love them so much!
I'm going to be obsessing over this book for days!
Loved the artwork, loved the message, loved the diversity and realisticness of the characters, loved the design gallery and drawing process overview in the back.

Fans of Raina Telgemeier will absolutely enjoy this one. Can't wait for Svetlana Chmakova to write another graphic novel...maybe about the newspaper club next time?
Kahlil Kinser
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great pacing and great character develop mix together with good story telling and even a moral tossed in. The characters are highly relatable and the art clearly has a manga influence in it done right. Overall, this was a very fun read.
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this because it shows how girls and boys can be friends too, and this was a pretty short read (for me, at least).
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
More like 3.5 in terms of my personal interest, but I haven't been an awkward middle school dork for quite a few years.
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, middle-grade
Cute, with a message that isn't hammered too hard.
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a super fun story about friendship, overcoming prejudice and preconceptions, making amends for your mistakes, and working together while having differences. I really, really enjoyed it. I'm marking it as children's and middle grade, although I think people who are older can enjoy it as well. The cast is super diverse, and not just racially (although that is also true). I was also pretty pleased that the boy-girl friendship didn't move into the romance realm (that happens so much, even ...more
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is really sweet and funny! I appreciated the lesson that sometimes people can do shitty things just because they're feeling nervous and that amends can still be made. And the art is adorable! A great one for Raina Telgemeier devotees.
Mimi 'Pans' Herondale
This was really cute and sweet but the plot was not very unique and wasn't very interesting. ...more
leslie delgadillo
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favs
*spoiler warning*Haven't read and don't want to it too be spoiled? then don't read!Have you ever had those awkward moments with friends especially with new ones?well I have and Penelope and Jamie the main characters of awkward have too. The genre of the book is realistic fiction. Awkward was a good book because it's realistic,relatable and connection with the reader at certain points.
So in the book awkward Penelope goes to a new school and on her first they trips and falls and Jamie comes to
This would be a GREAT gift for middle school to high school "liberal arts types" kids who are showing signs of being cliquey / are having trouble getting along with kids who seem different from them.

As an adult reading this book I felt that the art vs. science divide was a bit extreme/simplistic, but I *KNOW* that I would have benefited from reading this book as a teenager when the "issue" of 'us vs them' was a daily reality (because I was a pretentious little nerd brat).

That said,
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Chmakova is giving Raina Telgemeier a run for her money with this fast-paced but chock full of social-lessons story. But I'm not one to pit women comics writers and illustrators against each other just because they are good at what they do. Really I'm just so happy that this is published so I have more great books in the same vein to recommend to teens and tweens. This isn't a Telgemeier rip off, it is another book of great quality. A story of a new girl who makes a mistake on her first day and ...more
That was seriously sweet, but was a brilliant introduction (and nostalgic call-back) to how complicated school life was / could be.

Truth be told, I didn't necessarily go through exactly what Peppi (also more formally known as Penelope) went through, but we've all been there before. The awkwardness of starting school, not knowing anyone (whether as a transfer student, coming from another country, or just simply going to a school in a new area), and definitely not knowing what to do or what to say
Taylor Ramirez
TBR Jar Challenge: Read a graphic novel


Since this is a graphic novel, let’s talk about that art. I actually really liked it! It got anime-y at times and was kind over exaggerated but it was still really cute and colorful. The only think that bothered me a little was the Caucasian characters’ skin wasn’t colored in. It was just white like the background so it looked a little odd. Other than that it was really cute.

This book is definitely for a younger audience, but was still really fun. It
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Svetlana Chmakova (Russian: Светлана Шмакова) (born 1979 in Russia) is a comic creator. She is best known for Dramacon, an original English-language (OEL) manga spanning three volumes and published in North America by Tokyopop. Her other work includes the 2-page The Adventures of CG for CosmoGIRL! magazine and the webcomic Chasing Rainbows for Girlamatic. Though born in Russia, she immigrated to ...more

Other books in the series

Berrybrook Middle School (4 books)
  • Brave (Berrybrook Middle School, #2)
  • Crush (Berrybrook Middle School, #3)
  • Diary (Berrybrook Middle School, #4)
“My mom says . . . there are bad people who hurt others for fun . . . and there are good people who do it by accident. Like, they make a mistake?

I think you're a good person.”
“Penelope? Thank you. For not leaving me alone to deal with this . . . when things got hard. other people would have. You're a true friend.” 3 likes
More quotes…