Amelia Rules!

Gownley, J. (2006). Amelia rules: The whole world’s crazy. New York, NY: Antheneum Books for Young Readers.

Amelia, a fourth grade girl who has just relocated due to her parent’s split, endures the trials and tribulations of being a kid. Along with her friends Reggie, Pajamaman, and Rhonda, and of course her rock star of an aunt Tanner, Amelia deals with the changes she faces with their support and love (well, mostly!) Amelia is the perfect mix of a tomboy and a  typical preteen girl, and at the root of her troubles lies her longing for her father. When she finally has the chance to spend time with him on a group camping trip, she becomes resentful of the lack of alone time she gets with him. In the end, it is Amelia who realizes that she controls her own life, and what a realization it is!

Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Grade level: 4th-7th

Readers who would like this book: Children whose parents are going through a divorce, children who enjoy comic books, children who enjoy adventurous stories, children who enjoy humorous, relatable main characters.

Rating and response: 4; Amelia Rules! is a totally awesome story of kid-dom that definitely reminded me of the Peanuts! Gownley’s use of description and detail seem to really separate this book from some of the comics that I have read, and I became more and more convinced of the value of graphic novels as I read. Not only did this books challenge me as a reader, it challenged me as a thinker as well! I loved Gowley’s use of different fonts to convey meaning and give depth to the story, and I thought that his development of the characters was fantastic. I didn’t feel that any of the characters were predictable, and I especially loved Amelia and Rhonda’s “frenemy” relationship. I think that this graphic novel did a great job of addressing the emotions felt by children of Amelia’s age group, and loved that the humor and wit of the characters balanced this heaviness. I was drawn back a bit by the “racier” aspects included in the book, such as Tanner’s skimpy wardrobe, references to “dope” and drunkenness, and the sometimes profuse name calling between the children. However, I think that these references are valuable in making this novel true”realistic fiction”, even though they may reflect a reality that adults sometimes do not want to see. Overall, I thought this book was really fun.

Question: This book is about a girl, Amelia, who has moved to a new town due to her parents divorce. Amelia goes through a hard time in the book due to this divorce, but copes with this struggle in many ways. What are some hardships that you have gone through in your life? How did you deal with them?

Reading Strategy: Sketch-to-Stretch

Sketch-to-Stretch is a reading strategy in which students draw pictures or create diagrams about what a story means to them. Students learn to use symbols to represent their interpretations and feelings about text, which deepens their understanding of the theme, characters, and underlying elements of its story. Students work in groups during this instructional strategy for practice on collaborative and brainstorming skills.

Because Amelia Rules! is a graphic novel whose story is depicted mainly through dialogue and comic-like illustrations, Sketch-to-Stretch would provide the perfect opportunity for students to mimic the style of the book while pushing beyond its superficial qualities. Amelia Rules! explores complex themes such as depression, love, anger, and friendship, and it does so on many levels. However, I think that many students would overlook these themes due to the seemed simplicity of the book. Given the opportunity to collaborate with peers, I think that students reading this book would end up making a deep emotional connection to its story, and would therefore have a fantastic time engaging in a sketch-to-stretch.

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