Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Saturday Cartoons

Gownley, Jimmy. Amelia Rules: The Whole World's Crazy.
Amelia is not pleased to have been transplanted from New York City to live with her Aunt Tanner after her parents' divorce, but she does find some friends over the summer. When school starts, however, she finds that they are in the nerd statrum of the school hierarchy, and she's not pleased, especially since she doesn't much care for Rhonda. Still, the group hangs together, going trick or treating, surviving gym class, and discovering the real meaning of Christmas. The first in a fairly lengthy series of graphic novels.
Strengths: Has some clever moments that adults will get, even though Amelia is nine. Since my students would read graphic novels about bat guano, I will get this series as I can afford it.
Weaknesses: As always, am struck that struggling readers are attracted to these, and worry that they don't actually read the text. I struggle with separating the pictures from the text, and they are hard for me to read, so when a student turns the book back after one period, I do strongly suspect they have only looked at the pictures. Sigh. Not the fault of the book.

Holm, Jennifer and Matt Holm. A Very Babymouse Christmas.
Babymouse really, really wants a Whiz Bang, an electronic device that does everything including folding the laundry. She schemes and schemes to get one, but it's not looking good. One of her classmates even gets one in the class gift exchange, but Babymouse of course gets whisker conditioner! She dreams A Christmas Carol sort of dream, and can't concentrate on anything in the weeks leading up to Christmas. When she finally does get the gadget she desires, it has no batteries, so she ends up playing with a dollhouse and bonding with her family.
Strengths: Bought this one because I had children asking for holiday books and I had nothing. Of course, the order didn't come in until last week! It will get worn out very quickly!
Weaknesses: Guilty confession-- I don't like Babymouse. Love Boston Jane and Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf, but Babymouse character is high on my slappage meter. I do have the first Babymouse book, but it's not been that popular. Perhaps just too elementary for my tastes.

Ozma, Alice. The Reading Promise.
When Alice's librarian father was afraid that she, like her older sister, would stop wanting to be read to, he proposed that they start a "streak" and read every night for 100 nights. Or so. The beginning of the streat is lost to the mists of time, but every night for about 3,218 days, they read books aloud, ending when Alice went off to college. Through this time, Alice and her father struggled with the departure of Alice's mother, financial problems, and the teen years.
Strengths: It's great that Alice is championing reading, and was so greatly affected by this effort by her father to stay connected to her by sharing what he loved.
Weaknesses: I thought this would make me feel like the worst mother in the world. I HATE to read aloud. Hate to be read to, as well. This made my ineffective parenting look good. Not that the level of dysfunction in Alice's family was horrible, it was just sad, and really not all that interesting. I was hoping that she would tie in how the books they read affected their lives, but there wasn't much of that. Great concept for a book, but a little weak in the execution, which is surprising since Alice clearly read a lot of good books. I feel mean saying this, but I had higher expectations.


  1. Oh man, I was looking forward to THE READING PROMISE.

    I learned to like reading aloud, and now I even listen to books in the car, but it was always on my terms. I refused to read the same picture book over and over, for example. Or let the kid choose all the books (I eventually allowed them to take turns with me). But nowadays when the kids come cuddle in bed with me, we are frequently all reading our own books silently.

  2. Ms. Yingling, I felt the same way about The Reading Promise. Wanted more about the reading part and less about the frequently uncomfortable family dynamics. If I had known this going in, perhaps I might feel differently.