Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Amelia Rules: The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular

The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular (Amelia Rules)Mia and I do a lot of reading together. Last year we read over 100 books together in the evenings ranging from Beverly Cleary to the Rainbow Fairies series to graphic novels like Babymouse and Amelia Rules. We read some classics and discovered that the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder doesn't quite stand up to time anymore. At least the first book, Little House in the Big Woods, didn't. Mia kept waiting for something to happen! I read the entire series as a child, but I don't see that in her future. We did read all but the last book in the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, and we're starting the final book tonight. Those books truly do stand the test of time. We've read the first several in the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park and those deserve their status as a top-selling series. They are hilarious for both parents and children. I read one title aloud to Mia, and her older teenage sister and my husband both sat quietly listening to it as well, chuckling along with us at Junie B.'s escapades. The Magic Tree House isn't as enjoyable, at least for me. It's so predictable, that I recommend that as a series for children to read themselves, adults steer clear!

One of my favorite finds for Mia has been the Amelia Rules series by Jimmy Gownley. I initially purchased one of the graphic novels because Mia's full name is Amelia and it seemed like a cool thing for her to read about a main character that shared her name. We've read the other books in the series because they are some of the best children's books I've ever read. Seriously! In one of the books, Amelia's friend has a heart condition that she tries to keep quiet, and when it becomes public knowledge, the way the kids react is so true to life, I had a hard time reading the words aloud because my throat had closed so tightly. Another one that had me choking up had a girl whose father was being deployed overseas. Gownley somehow manages to perfectly portray the fear of a tweenage girl, the books feel very real, yet at the same time entertaining. I couldn't tell you who enjoys the series more -Mia or me- but we both highly anticipate reading each volume together, and when she is so regularly entertained by the Wii, her Nintendo DSi, Netflix, and iCarly, it's wonderful to have a book that brings us together each night to cuddle, to be together, and to engage in one of our favorite activities: reading!

The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular by Jimmy Gownley is the fifth book in the Amelia Rules series. Amelia McBride has settled into her life in upstate New York after the divorce of her parents. She's going into a new year of school with her old friends, Rhonda, Reggie, Pajamaman, and Joan, who recently moved to the area. They've spent the last year dealing with their unpopularity, but Rhonda has discovered the eponymous guidebook that is supposed to help them achieve every tweenage and teenage dream: popularity. The quest has Rhonda acting in more abnormal ways than even she is accustomed to. When Amelia and Rhonda team up on a school project that at first gives them their heart's desire and then goes wrong...very, very wrong, leaving Amelia labeled "bad" by the school principal and wondering who she really is. I have no idea how Gownley manages to write so accurately in the mind of a ten-year-old girl, although I would have loved her dialogue when I was her age. His books are so well-written, filled with brilliant dialogue, as thought-provoking plots that will inspire real thinking in children, and conversations with their parents. He tackles topics often thought too deep for children and handles them with true delicacy and finesse. He gives parents a view into their children's minds, while giving those kids something to laugh about while also learning lessons about life, but he never does it in a pedantic way that would turn off readers. I am unashamedly in love with the Amelia Rules series, as is my seven-year-old daughter. Gownley has created something truly wonderful in this series, and I look forward to following the series for years to come.


Rebecca Bany said...

My daughter and I read together every night. She loves Junie B. Jones. Unfortunately, we've read all of them!