Title: Cici’s Journal: The Adventures of a Writer in Training
By: Joris Chamblain, Aurelie Nėyret
ISBN: 162672248X (ISBN13: 9781626722484)
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Scott
Cici dreams of being a novelist. Her favorite subject: people, especially adults. She’s been watching them and taking notes. Everybody has one special secret, Cici figures, and if you want to write about people, you need to understand what’s hiding inside them. But now she’s discovered something truly strange: an old man who disappears into the forest every Sunday with huge pots of paint in all sorts of colors. What is he up to? Why does he look so sad when he comes back?
In a graphic novel interwoven with journal notes, scrapbook pieces, and doodles, Cici assembles clues about the odd and wonderful people she’s uncovered, even as she struggles to understand the mundane: her family and friends. (Goodreads)
Cici’s journal: The Adventures of a writer in Training is actually a collection of two “graphic novelettes” originally written in French and translated to English: Cici’s journal: The Petrified Zoo and Cici’s journal: Hector’s Book; they are labelled Part One and Part two in the book respectively. The Interweaving thread that binds the two novelettes is Cici, A 10-year-old girl, who is an aspiring author, and keeps a journal (as her mother insists, “if you’re going to be a writer you should write,”) making the graphic novelettes part graphic and part prose. Cici has a nose for mystery, and the two mini-mysteries in both novelettes are both well constructed and easy to read. At no point does the reader feel lost or confused as the book is written for younger aspiring writers (hopefully of graphic novels).
The characterization was flawlessly executed, although the journal entries do not sound like a 10-year-old wrote them. Otherwise, the dialogue between the children themselves, the interactions between children and adults and the rare interaction of adults speaking with adults really resonated well. Cici grows and learns lessons the hard way, lending credence to her interactions with the people around her. Joris Chamblain brings all the characters to a head in the second book, and it is done in a realistic manner that does not cheat or rob the reader of any concerns about Cici’s behavior. Cici’s surrounding cast is fleshed out well enough that they do not feel artificial or contrived.
The artwork in the book is typically European. It runs the gamut of deftly lined characters, to 10-year-old crayon scribbles that line the pages of the journal. Likewise, it has a sense of grandeur and mystery surrounding things like a stone wall, or a closed off section of a library (the two notable examples from Part One and Part Two). Perspective and proportion are bang on and the characters (Cici and her two best friends Lena and Erica) look like 10-year old’s. It is a rarity for artists who regularly draw adults to draw children as the proportions of the body change. But her Aurėlie Nėyret pulls it off flawlessly and does not fall into the trap of making them “mini-adults.” The lettering (presumably done by computer and added in after the translation), is in an easy-to-read font and word balloons do not tie up the panel’s real estate. `Cici’s Journal should appeal to lovers of little mysteries (mystery-ettes?). children’s stories, aspiring writers (or journal authors). European art aficionados and plain old lovers of graphic novels. While geared towards children, adults can at least find the artistry in this graphic novel. While not spectacular, Cici’s journal: The Adventures of a Writer in Training is a quick, easy read that can be enjoyed from many points of view.