Written by: Megan Wagner Lloyd
Illustrated by: Michelle Mee Nutter
Publisher: Scholastic Graphix
Allergic is the story of Maggie, a girl who is about to get a puppy for her birthday – but things don’t work out as she plans: when they arrive at the animal shelter to select a puppy for adoption, they discover that Maggie is horribly allergic to fur!
Allergic is a bright and welcoming middle grade graphic novel that is available at your local bookstore and public library beginning today, March 2nd, 2021. With a story that combines plot threads about both dealing with allergies and navigating friendship conflicts, this comic is the perfect solution to scratch your graphic novel itch.
One ideal audience for this middle grade graphic novel will be kids who have to undergo allergy testing themselves. This is thanks in part to the fact that (as discussed in an interview with The Beat) Lloyd is drawing on her own experience with allergies and Nutter is exceptional drawing abstract concepts like “itchy”!
These two elements combine to allow readers a chance to see every stage of Maggie’s journey: the discovery of symptoms, the trip to the clinic for testing, the process she goes through to learn more about allergies and the treatment of the same, and her ultimate acceptance and understanding of the situation.
For those readers who may have to undergo allergy testing and treatment themselves, being able to see the process play out over the course of Allergic could be an immeasurable comfort. As Maggie learns over the course of the graphic novel, part of what makes these situations so intimidating is not knowing what to expect.
Fortunately, the doctor gives Maggie a comic answers some of her questions about allergies (comics! Is there anything they can’t do?).
Friend vs. Friend
Allergic isn’t just a comic about allergies! Maggie’s allergy situation gets even more complicated when it intersects with her new friendship. Maggie has become fast friends with her new next-door neighbor, Claire.
At first, everything seems great – Claire’s permissive father allows his daughter free reign of the house, which is considerably less busy than Maggie’s home (in a pair of memorable pages, the interiors of the two neighbors homes are placed on pages facing one another).
But the depiction of the friendship is elevated when Claire gets a puppy herself. Seeing a friend get what Maggie had been hoping to receive herself – but which she had been denied for reasons beyond anyone’s control – is a compelling point of conflict between the two characters. While there are plenty of middle grade graphic novels about the interpersonal relations between friends, Allergic distinguishes itself by introducing the independently compelling allergy storyline and then building the drama around that.
Interesting family dynamics
On top of the interesting dynamics between Maggie and Claire, Maggie’s family is filled with fascinating characters: her household includes her mother, father, her grandmother, two younger brothers, and there’s a new sibling on the way.
An integral part of Maggie’s journey is not just defining the parameters of her relationship with her friends, but also better understanding where she fits into the tapestry of her family. These two elements both go hand in hand with the allergy narrative, as all three are really just Maggie getting to better know herself on different scales. Allergic succeeds so well because it understands this, and balances the narrative accordingly.
More from this creative team, please
Finally, it bears mentioning that Allergic does some very interesting things with narrative structure, especially in the passages that collapse extended periods of time, demonstrating why this story is one that is particularly suited to being told via comics.
While Allergic is a standalone graphic novel, Lloyd and Nutter are collaborating on a forthcoming unrelated graphic novel from Graphix, this one focused on a large family – a topic that seems like a perfect expansion of some of the unexplored elements of Allergic. When you lay your itchy eyes on Allergic, you’ll understand just what makes this prospect so appealing.