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Back to School

By (author): Kyo Maclear Illustrated by: Byron Eggenschwiler
Kyo Maclear ,

Illustrated by :

Byron Eggenschwiler


Groundwood Books - Toronto



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paper over boards
Hardcover , Paper over boards


Juvenile: Age (years) 10 - 14, Grade (CAN) 5 - 9, Grade (US) 5 - 9
Apr 01, 2019
$21.95 CAD


9in x 6.5 x 0.9 in | 1.32 lb

Page Count:

160 pages


full-color illustrations
Groundwood Books Ltd
Groundwood Books
JUVENILE FICTION / Comics & Graphic Novels / General
Red Maple Award 2020, Short-listed Joe Shuster Award — The Dragon Award 2020, Short-listed Cybils Award for Elementary/ Middle Grade Graphic Novels 2019, Short-listed Quill & Quire Books of the Year for Kids 2019, Commended The List, Toronto Public Library 2020, Commended Black-Eyed Susan Book Award — Graphic Novels, Grades 6-9 2020, Nominated
  • Short Description
A story of friendship, first crushes, opera and the high drama of middle school told by award-winning Kyo Maclear in her debut graphic novel.

A story of friendship, first crushes, opera and the high drama of middle school told by award-winning Kyo Maclear in her debut graphic novel.

Somewhere in the universe, there is the perfect tune for you.

It’s almost the end of middle school, and Charlie has to find her perfect song for a music class assignment. But it’s hard for Charlie to concentrate when she can’t stop noticing her classmate Emile, or wondering about Luka, who hasn’t been to school in weeks.

Then, the class learns about opera, and Charlie discovers the music of Maria Callas. The more she learns about Maria’s life, the more Charlie admires her passion for singing and her ability to express herself fully through her music. Can Charlie follow the example of the ultimate diva, Maria Callas, when it comes to her own life?

Key Text Features
speech bubbles

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.

KYO MACLEAR is a beloved author of books for children and adults. Her recent children’s books include Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli, illustrated by Julie Morstad, Yak and Dove, illustrated by Esmé Shapiro, and The Liszts, illustrated by Júlia Sardà. She lives in Toronto with her two sons, two cats and a singer.

BYRON EGGENSCHWILER is an award-winning illustrator whose recent books include The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt by Riel Nason, Operatic by Kyo Maclear (starred reviews from Booklist, School Library Journal and Quill & Quire), Coyote Tales by Thomas King and Beastly Puzzles by Rachel Poliquin (starred review from School Library Journal). Byron's work has also appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Walrus, GQ and O, The Oprah Magazine. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.

Operatic displays a beautiful, poetic and subtle interplay between text and image. A sensitively written, and knowing portrayal of early teen life, highlighting the formative and identity-forming role that music plays in those years. The illustrations are loose and lovely, pairing quiet, realistic portrayals of the awkwardness of everyday life in high school, with metaphoric, imaginative images of inner worlds. - Julie Morstad, award-winning illustrator of Bloom; Julia, Child; and This Is Sadie

Operatic reveals an optimism that I find generally missing from comics. I loved Byron Eggenschwiler’s flowing, layered illustrations and I was hit in the gut by Kyo Maclear’s story about the magic and frustration of art and adolescence. Like all of Kyo’s work, this book is not only an invitation to read, but to create. - Matthew Forsythe, two-time Eisner Award–nominated illustrator and Emmy Award-winning designer of Adventure Time

Operatic is a sweet read. Maclear’s charming, understated writing and Eggenschwiler’s inventive cartooning are a perfect match. - Hope Larson, Eisner Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling creator of A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

Operatic is stunning; reading through it reminded me why I love comics. The atmosphere is tantalizing and rich, and the story is not one I will soon forget. - Tillie Walden, two-time Eisner Award nominee and Ignatz Award–winning creator of the graphic novels Spinning, On a Sunbeam, and Are You Listening?

Opera is an unusual but pitch-perfect match for that swell of overwhelming feeling, and Maclear. - Booklist

Brimming with raw emotion, music references, and gorgeous art, this memorable and relatable graphic novel will linger with readers. - School Library Journal

Operatic offers a deft look at adolescence, rich but subtle, accessible but beautifully complex. . . . Maclear has created a setting and a cast of characters that feel extraordinarily fresh, alive, and, above all, very real. . . . Eggenschwiler’s visual metaphors create their own network of social, emotional, and sensory connections. . . . This book will delight not only young people and graphic-novel aficionados but anyone who believes that art — especially opera — is a powerful force in the world. - Quill and Quire

Maclear and Eggenschwiler cleverly weave together story, visual art, and music. . . . Clever and contemplative, with music history readers might find unexpectedly fun. - Kirkus Reviews

Packed with music references and evocative illustrations, Operatic is a graphic novel that students will easily relate to and identify with.

- Vancouver Writers Fest

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