Thursday, August 23, 2012

Eighth Grade is Making me Sick - a review

I've been reading a slew of serious books lately for the mock Newbery group, Newbery Blueberry Mockery Pie, so I took a slight detour between The Lions of Little Rock and Wonder, to read the latest in the "Stuff" series.

Holm, Jennifer L. 2012. Ginny Davis's Year in Stuff: Eighth Grade is Making me Sick. New York: Random House. (Ill. by Elicia Castaldi)

Using an updated version of the wonderful format that served the Klise Sisters so well in the Regarding the ... and 43 Old Cemetery Road series,

Jennifer Holm has crafted a winning series consisting of a collection of correspondence and realia.  While the aformentioned series rely heavily upon letters, newsletters, newspaper clippings and such - all rendered in black and white sketches, the Stuff series is illustrated by Elicia Castaldi and is a wonderfully fun and colorful combination of collages created from sketches, artfully chosen backgrounds, Post-it notes, screen shots, cell phone messages, scribbled notes, a brother's cartoons - virtually anything that might convey information to or about Ginny Davis, 8th grader at Woodland Central Middle School.

Changes are coming to Ginny's financially struggling family.  The biggest change? Mom's pregnant.  Didn't notice the positive pregnancy test stick in the garbage? No worries, just check the IM window running next to spider solitaire,

OMG mi mom is pregnant! I though she was just getting fat!
OMG! OMG! She's a grannymom!
What's a grannymom?
an old mom!
She iz pretty old. She's 39!
Do u think shez having twins? Or 3lets? I love all those shows with multiples!
omg.  I hope not.
In addition to mom's pregnancy, Ginny has to worry about making the cheer squad and earning some new privileges, specifically, permission to bike to school and join an online movie fan group, "Vampire Vixens Den." Hopefully, persistent stomach trouble and a troubling family financial situation won't keep her from completing

Ginny's big To-Do List
  1. Try out for cheer
  2. Convince Mom to let me bike to school
  3. Fall in love
  4. Work on art (sketch every day)
  5. Save money
  6. Look good in family Christmas photo
  7. Join  Vampire Vixens Den
  8. Teach Grampa Joe how to email
  9. Have a cool Halloween costumer for once
  10. Ignore horoscopes!

There are so many reasons to like this book. It tackles the very real problem of declining middle-class income. It embraces modern culture. It's fun. It's funny. It's artistic. Ginny is a likable young girl.  Kids (especially girls) will love it.  Do I sound like a Jennifer Holm fan?  I am.

Want to see more of Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick
Watch a "behind the scenes" video on the author's webpage.

Another review @ Kirkus Reviews

If you're a teacher who shies away from assigning any form of illustrated novel, here's an idea for you - with the current focus on cross-curricular instruction, pair up with the art teacher, if you're lucky enough to still have one! Let students tell their own stories in this appealing mix of text, art, and reality.

Note: This post had been edited to correct an incorrect attribution that I realized after posting.  My apologies, LT

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