Confident tomboy

Zibby Payne & The Drama Trauma

By Annie Murray

A review of Zibby Payne & The Drama Trauma by Alison Bell

Published on July 1, 2007

Zibby Payne & The Drama Trauma
Alison Bell

Lobster Press
$8.95
paper
95pp
978-1-897073-47-6

It’s hard not to like Zibby Payne. She’s a plucky girl and a talented athlete who does her own thing on her own terms. She enjoys hanging out with her loyal friend Sarah, but she’ll nonetheless sprint away to play soccer with the boys when it’s recess. Zibby ably navigates the increasingly complex world of the sixth grade wearing a sneaker on one foot and a platform shoe on the other.

Though the tomboy protagonist is definitely a type we’ve met before in children’s literature, Zibby is fresh and endearing with her confidence, savvy, and sense of humour. She is also willing to take risks, which is certainly the case when she, a “jock,” tries out for the school musical and lands the lead female role. Zibby seems a natural for the part of a new-to-town girl who wins the friendship of her new classmates through her soccer prowess. When Zibby gets to Page 83 of the script, however, she panics. Page 83 says that she will kiss the leading male in the play, who happens to be her friend Matthew. Zibby’s personal role as the class tomboy is challenged by the very idea of this kiss.

Zibby’s discomfort with the idea of kissing Matthew is evoked with honesty and humour by Alison Bell, whose unforced writing style and choice of words have enough “street cred” to be believable for young and tween readers. Zibby stalls, makes excuses, and goes to great lengths to avoid the big scene with Matthew, but ultimately a comically misguided belief that multiple coats of Groovy Grapilicious lip gloss will create a second pair of lips over her own convinces her that she can go through with the disgusting act. Zibby Payne’s adventures have the humour and momentum to become a well-loved series. mRb

Annie Murray is a Montreal librarian.

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