Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Skim (Groundwood Books, 2008), written by Mariko Tamaki and drawn by her cousin Jillian Tamaki, is a gentle and unparalleled exploration of one fictional teenager’s inner life.
The splash page for Part I of Skim introduces us to the story’s protagonist, Kimberly Keiko Cameron (aka “Skim”), a half-Japanese student attending an all-girls’ private high school in Ontario. Why the nickname Skim? In her own words, ”Because I’m not.” Though the story does not concentrate on Kimberly’s weight issues, in a world of highly self-conscious teenage girls, we can only guess that this is one of many reasons that Skim is perceived as an outcast.
As readers, we are provided access to Skim’s diary, which indicates her favourite colour as “black red.” The uncertainty communicated through this initial journal entry is a poignant and provocative indication that all may not be as it seems with Skim. To introduce corrections throughout Skim’s diary is also to realistically portray how a teenage diary, or for that matter any diary, might look—unless its author were to erase or white out any errors. The jazz pianist Thelonius Monk insisted on never re-recording tracks when he was in recording sessions, believing that if musicians made errors during these events, they ought to be duly noted as such for all to hear. In Skim, we can assume that Kimberley’s errors are an intentional vehicle used to portray the diarist’s doubleness, her doubts and insecurities. But their inclusion at all is testament to the author’s depth and perceptiveness into teen neurosis. Continue reading ‘Because I’m not: Skim’