I’ve been trying to read more kids’ graphic novels, so when this came home from a Daddy-sponsored library trip for the kids, I had to try it. It’s a series I’d been hearing about as one of the Big Kid Series for years, and now I understand it. Big as in nominated for multiple Eisner awards, Harvey awards, won a Cybils award in 2007, and the most recent volume, Her Permanent Record, made the New York Times Bestseller list.
Amelia Rules. Vol. 2. What Makes You Happy. by Jimmy Gownley
Amelia is a happy-go-lucky, rock’n’roll-loving fifth grader who lives with her mom and her aunt Tanner, a former rock star. Her stories are told in episodes that are certainly longer than a comic strip, but shorter than a typical floppy comic book – short enough to be clear that the humor is important, but long enough to go for some character development as well. Amelia is a member of the GASP club for superheroes, more because it’s run by her crush, Reggie, than because she really aspires to be a superhero. Also in the club is her frenemy Rhonda, a rival for Reggie’s affections, and the quiet and shy Pajama Man. This is younger middle grade romance, so what the girls are aspiring to is getting Valentine’s Day cards from the object of their affections. There are also stories about GASP’s battle with the ninja kids from across town, Aunt Tanner’s brief moment of returning fame, a bittersweet episode as Amelia deals with the death of an unknown great aunt and its impact on her mother and aunt, and a trip to Manhattan to visit her dad and her old best friend.
I have to say, this book deserves its accolades. The stories hit just the right balance of realistic kid, hilarious adventure, and kids learning about life. The art is solidly done, very aware of the comic heritage it’s drawing on, from Peanuts to Calvin and Hobbes. While he mostly uses an easy-to-follow grid pattern, Gownley sometimes breaks the grid to hilarious effect. For those who like their stories realistic and funny – I’d give this to fans of Big Nate, Dork Diaries, and yes, Calvin and Hobbes, as well as the standard realistic but funny middle grade fiction.
Speaking of kids’ comics, I recently heard about the Kids’ Comics Revolution Awards. Podcast hosts and comic book artists Dave Roman and Jerzy Drozd have started this first-ever award for kids’ comics where only kids can vote. The categories range from best in a variety of genres to best hair in comics and grossest moment in comics. Voting is online (see the link above) or in person at the Kids Read Comics Convention in Ann Arbor next weekend.
Never a comic reader as a kid I have been learning what wonderful a genre this is after reviewing several from Papercutz. I love that this one has a girl as the main character. Girls are still underseen in lead roles in comics. I have not read any of these but will look up the publisher and see about checking it out. Thanks for the review. I am glad I hopped over and found this gem.
I started reading comics as an adult, too, but am learning to appreciate them! Others I’ve enjoyed with female leads are “Zita the Space Girl” and “Giants Beware”. Of course anything by Raina Telgemeier is great, too – “Smile”, “Drama”, and her gns of the Babysitter’s Club.
I enjoyed the volumes of Amelia Rules that I read. I liked the sensibility of the comic.
What fun! I’d love for you to share this review with the Cozy Book Hop I host on Thursdays. If you’re interested i’ll see you there!
Thank you so much for the invitation, Marissa! I have a hard time getting to a computer on Thursdays, but I’ll see what I can do!
This looks awesome. I am a fan of the graphic novel and can’t wait till Gigi is old enough to give them a go. I love the premise of this, although I think the mg romance would lend this more towards girls lol. Thanks so much for linking it in to the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Cheers Julie Grasso (Hostess)
I was hoping to try reading this to my son before I got back to you, just to see his reaction. But my feeling is that the romance is mostly just part of one of the stories, and treated more as a joke than seriously romantic, so I still think the book would work for boys, too. Especially with the ninjas vs. superheroes battles. 🙂
Oh how interesting! I usually see the majority of graphic novels targeting boys. I’m curious about this one for my daughter. She really loves reading Archie comics (which I have mixed feelings about), but she hasn’t really explored graphic novels the way my son does. This sounds like a great series! Thanks for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop.
I think a lot of gns do target boys, but I’ve been seeing a fair amount recently that are adventures starring girls, which appeal to both – The Three Thieves, Giants Beware! and Zita the Space Girl, as well as the Oz gns. Series I haven’t read but have heard are great girl-oriented ones are the Babymouse books and the Babysitters Club. Oh, yes, and Yotsuba&! is a gently funny manga series. But manga in general tends to have much more gender equity, and they’re much more straightforward with making their age recommendations prominent.
I LOVE graphic novels for kids, especially ones about girls! Amelia Rules looks like a stellar series. Thanks for sharing your review with the Kid Lit Blog Hop!
Thank you for stopping by! I was really happy to finally find out what the buzz surrounding Amelia Rules is about.