Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Skim

Tamaki, Mariko (Author)
Tamaki, Jillian (Illustrator)
Groundwood Books 2010. 144 pages
First published: 2008
ISBN: 9780888999641 (paperback)
9781554980697 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Graphic Text
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, layout, panel arrangement

Award

Governor General’s Literary Award – Finalist – 2008

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Kimberly is a 16-year-old outsider who studies Tarot, practices Wicca and is aloof yet opinionated about most of the things going on around her. The story is set in 1993 at a Toronto girls’ high school. Kimberly is known as Skim because she is “not slim.” Her parents are divorced, she has a broken arm, her best friend is drifting away from her and she develops a crush on her flamboyant and quirky English teacher, Ms. Archer.

Alternating between Skim’s diary entries and sharp, witty dialogue, readers get to know the intimate inner workings of her glib, insightful and somewhat troubled teenage mind.

When a classmate commits suicide, the entire school goes into a frenzy of group mourning and grief counselling. Skim struggles with her individuality and identity against the backdrop of this unsettling event. “Dear Diary, last night Lisa and I tried to summon the spirit of John Reddear, but he didn’t appear. Lisa asked what we would do if he did show up. Nothing, I guess. Ignore him.”

The black-and-white, pen-and-ink illustrations depict both the realism of daily life and Skim’s inner world using an unsettling form of expressionism. Using shadow and light to great effect, dynamic panel sizes and placement as well as close-ups, the drawings manage to beautifully reflect Skim’s world and are a seamless accompaniment to the text.

A sensitive, subtle and astute depiction of teenage unease.

  •  

    In this graphic text, there is a focus on panel arrangement, transitions and other codes and conventions of visual texts, particularly on the opening splash page and panels. Notice the use of multiple genres of writing (narration, diary entries, lists, dialogue, etc.).

  •  

    In small groups, discuss the messages that are being conveyed about adolescents through the characters. How are the identities of adolescent girls constructed? Choose one character and discuss how she is portrayed.

  •  

    In conjunction with other teen memoirs, use as part of the immersion into text for a research project (ethnography or action research) to study a social world relevant to adolescents.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Personal Development