Smaller Sister is the new semi-biographical graphic novel from cartoonist Maggie Edkins Willis, focusing on the challenging landscape girls experience in middle school. It’s a heartfelt book, effectively giving life to sisters Livy and Lucy while dealing with serious social and emotional issues in a manner approachable to young readers. In addition to being a worthwhile exploration of a difficult time for many young people, Maggie’s visual style is amenable and expressive, giving this comic personality and flair.
Smaller Sister focuses on two sisters, Olivia (or Livy) and Lucy, separated by a mere 20 months. Understandably, the two were close. That is, until middle school when that small difference in age becomes a social chasm. With Livy trying to find her own voice while getting help for an eating disorder, Lucy is left to find a space in her sister’s life. The book follows the sisters as they engage in many coming-of-age moments, coming to grips with their change from children to young adults. While the book covers some serious subject material, it does so in a manner fitting for a middle school-minded audience.
Willis has a clear eye for expressive character design, with her simple characters articulating a range of subtle emotions naturally. Additionally, the blocking is creative and uses space economically to communicate internal character motivations, with simple backgrounds flowing into detailed sketches from the character’s own art books. When considering the age of the main protagonists, this artistic choice was a good one, and gives a sense that these are fully realized individuals.
Published by Roaring Brook Press, Smaller Sister yet another fine addition to the current wealth of graphic novels aimed at young readers. Maggie Edkins Willis is a strong comic storyteller whose future releases should be on your radar. While subject material related to eating disorders may be difficult for some readers, Smaller Sister is so competently composed that it warrants a read by any comic reader.
Join the AIPT Patreon
Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:
- ❌ Remove all ads on the website
- 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
- 📗 Access to our monthly book club
- 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
- 💥 And more!