Bibliographic Information: Gownley, J. (2006). Amelia rules: The whole world’s crazy. New York, NY: Antheneum Books for Young Readers
Brief Annotation: This graphic novel is a collection of five short stories featuring Amelia, her newly divorced parents, her aunt, and her band of misfit friends as they navigate the trials of growing up.
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Grade Level: 2-7
Readers who will like this: Readers who are transitioning from picture books to novels; readers who enjoy graphic novels; readers with “non-traditional” families; readers who enjoy books that push the boundaries
Rating/Response: 4; I found Amelia to be a bright, spunky, and strong character. Amelia’s interactions with her parents felt realistic and didn’t shy away from exploring the variety of emotions and doubts that a child with newly divorced parents can experience. I particularly enjoyed Amelia’s interactions with her Aunt Tanner. I enjoyed the stylistic choices Gownley made, particularly Amelia breaking the fourth wall. There were some problematic aspects for me. While I loved that this book acknowledged that children are far more aware of the adult world than most grown-ups would like to give them credit for, I did feel that the book went a little too far on a few occasions (such as the first appearance of Tanner, when she appears to only be wearing an over-sized t-shirt). I was also very uncomfortable with the fact that the white, blonde, skinny girls were being portrayed as more desirable both in terms of friends and potential crushes than the frumpy brunette. This is a book that I might not choose for a read aloud or required reading, but I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable having it be a part of my classroom library.
One question you would ask before a read aloud: What makes a family? (I would particularly like to address this with the older range of children who might read this book, and ask them if Amelia, Reggie, Pajamaman, and Rhonda can be considered a family.)
Reading Strategy: Character Blogs (Yopp & Yopp, 2010). In a Character Blog, students create blog posts as if they were one of the characters in the text. This would be a great strategy for Amelia rules! The whole world’s crazy. There are several different characters, and students could choose the character they connect to the most. Using Character Blogs helps students to understand both the events in the story and the deeper feelings and motivations of the characters. This could help students understand the motivations behind some of Rhonda’s actions, or put words to the silent Pajamaman. I would mostly use this strategy for Amelia rules! The whole world’s crazy because the nature of the narration is in itself similar to a blogger’s voice; thus, Amelia is modeling the strategy for the students. They could then employ the strategy for later works.