Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge explores the dynamics of childhood friendships, as well as the universal experience of jealousy and uncertainty that can occur when someone new is added to the group.
Lois Lane has always been known as the smart, strong, ambitious journalist whose passion for truth and justice resulted in Superman himself falling for her. But in this original graphic novel for kids by Grace Ellis and Brittney Williams, we see this iconic character in her own original standalone story as a 13-year-old middle schooler in the age of smartphone technology.
Along with Lois, we get to meet a full cast of original characters! There’s Kristen, Lois’ best friend in the whole universe. She is pretty laid back, really enjoys bike riding and is generally a very happy and sociable girl. Then there’s Izzy. She’s the new girl in town and is very shy at first, but once you get to know her, she’s as exuberant and geeky as they come! There’s also Henri, a college student who is friends with the girls and helps them work out their problems. She’s kind, hard-working and intelligent. Other characters include the hilariously adorable cat, Ed, and the two rival bike shop owners, Mrs. Ramirez and Jana.
Lois is as ambitious and spunky as ever, and this summer she’s trying to go viral on VidMe, the most popular social media platform in Metropolis, with Kristen’s help through the #FriendshipChallenge—a hashtag challenge designed to show off your best friend on the internet as a show of appreciation. The challenge was created by a VidMe celebrity named Lottie who Lois really looks up to and who said she’ll repost the winning #FriendshipChallenge video. Lois sees this as a clear path to VidMe stardom.
There is just one problem… Okay, more like three or four.
Lois’ videos routinely only get two views, usually from her mom and a mystery viewer. Kristen is much less interested in video making than Lois—she would much rather go bike riding and get ice cream. Kristen is also planning on going to a summer sleepaway camp for the very first time right after the annual bike race at the Jamboree. This means that she won’t be there for her and Lois’ tradition of watching the summer fireworks. Plus, those very same fireworks have gone missing in what appears to be a sabotage of the Jamboree!
Through her burgeoning detective skills, Lois settles on a suspect for the Jamboree sabotage, but she arrives at it by following her gut rather than following the clues and won’t listen to either Kristen or Henri. In being so stubborn, she refuses to see what’s right in front of her. As Lois continues to make claims and decisions without consulting her network of friends, everything seems to worsen, and tensions begin to rise between her and Kristen. All at once, Lois must fix her friendship with Kristen and save the Jamboree in the process!
Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge is incredibly fun, smart and funny. It’s beautifully illustrated by Williams, with bright, dynamic colors, diverse characters and an overall aesthetic that is perfect for summer and back to school. All of the featured characters are relatable in different ways, and honestly a LOT of their facial expressions could easily work as emojis. Not to mention there is a plethora of subtle nods to classic characters we all know and love sprinkled throughout!
Any child with an interest in social media or YouTube will be able to relate to Lois’ quest for VidMe stardom and may be surprised by the consequences that can come when one puts fame over friendship. Despite being a middle grade graphic novel, this book doesn’t shy away from showcasing complex relationships. Hopefully, it is pretty obvious by now that a major theme within this graphic novel is friendship, but it doesn’t just focus on the simple, easy aspects of long-lasting friendships. Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge isn’t afraid to say that friendship is difficult sometimes—that, just like with any relationship, you have to work on it. Lois and Kristen are best friends, but any friendship will inevitably have its growing pains as the people within it start to change. Through her writing, Ellis explores the intricate dynamics of long-lasting friendship, while keeping the book light-hearted and exciting for younger readers.
Anybody with children in their lives will be able to recognize the particular challenges that middle schoolers can go through when trying to figure out who they are, who their friends are and what they want to be. Middle school is a largely transitional time period for most people. In times of great change, it is important to have a support system behind you. Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge reminds kids to think of others, to be kind and considerate and to lean on their friends when they need help.
Don’t let the fact that she occasionally writes about kids comics throw you, I.M. Curtis is a big fan of the darker side of DC. While Harley Quinn is her favorite DC character, her favorite movie is Joker (life’s too short to take sides in bad breakups). Catch her blogging about books, movies and life over at L’histoire Jusqui’ici.