I seem to be really zipping through them right now. Too bad the current wave is almost over. Anyway, first up is Leading Ladies by Marlee Matlin and Doug Cooney. This belongs in the behind-the-scenes-at-the-play drama subgenre of literature, and I have picked up a surprisingly large number of these that all have to do with productions of The Wizard of Oz. This time around our protagonist is Megan, a fourth grader who happens to be deaf (and if the name Marlee Matlin means anything to you, you'll understand why). I gather this is not the first book about Megan, but you don't need to know the other books as well, everything you need to know about Megan, her friends, her family, and her classmates is in this book. Her class is putting on an original musical based on The Wizard of Oz (it's a trick by her teacher to get the class to read the book!), and Megan really wants to try out for Dorothy. But when her best friend from camp, Lizzie, moves across town and joins Megan's class, Megan is embarrassed that Lizzie will be auditioning with the exact same songs she had planned to use. Ah, but Megan's new dog, Solo, comes to her rescue! Not only does Megan get the part, Solo also gets cast as Toto. So what happens when Solo digs his way out of the yard right before dress rehearsals, and Megan's classmate who was going to voice her lines gets laryngitis? Don't worry, it all comes out well in the end, but things do take some turns before getting there. I really like Megan, she's a fun character with all the highs and lows any kid gets, and the supporting characters are all well realized as well. I really enjoyed it, even if the Oz content was a little on the light side.
My other recent book was volume 2 of Namesake, collected from the webcomic. Emma is still dealing with being a namesake (and not the Dorothy everyone in Oz thinks she is), and discovering all kinds of secrets about those around her as well. What impresses me about Namesake is the rich tapestry of a world that's being woven in the story, and the minimal use of color. It's primarily in black and white, but with just enough touches of color here and there to indicate mood, action, or other bits of atmosphere. If nothing else, it's a very attractive comic, but the story is pretty compelling, too.