Disruptive, Destructive, and Disrespectful: 3 accusations against Amelia McBride at her new school. On the first day no less! And why yes, she is a delightful young lady. You and your children should get to know her better. I can promise you, you won’t regret it.
after which we witness an unusual but effective way to dissuade bullies from ever bothering you again.
page 10 (though story-wise page 2)
Jimmy Gownley’s Amelia Rules! The Whole World’s Crazy is book one of a delectable series about a grade-schooler named Amelia McBride. In this first book, Amelia is nine and in the fourth grade and has just moved to a new town after her parents have divorced.
Enter new neighborhood friends: Reggie, Pajamaman, and er Rhonda. The new friends are charming and strange, and well–I love in “The Ugly Truth” when Amelia is surveying the clusters of kids around the school grounds before the first bell on the first day of school:
“Looks like they’re all here, all right!
Yep…all the standard groups!
Except you didn’t mention the Nerds!
Do you guys have any…umm any nerds?”(48).
Cue the frame with the three new friends looking red-faced and irritated.
Amelia has that sinking feeling, “oh, no.” Page 49?:
“You’re the Nerds?” [Amelia exasperates.]
“Define ‘Nerd’,” [Reggie asks.]
[Rhonda replies,] “Reggie, you speak ‘Klingon.’ You are the definition.”
Next frame Reggie returns with an accusatory finger point,
“Oh, Yeah? Well, what about you Miss ‘Ted Koppel Fan Club’!”
“That’s a Secret!”
To follow: Amelia didn’t know, “i..i..had no context!”
Did Amelia think every boy in the small town neighborhood ran around in superhero clothing?
As for Amelia, she is not the insipid victim of circumstance. She acts out. She is witty, and well, you know that with great wit comes brilliant sarcasm—in which she can be downright mean at times. Amelia isn’t hard though. She is nine and has a number of insecurities with which a reader can identify (no matter their age).
What I appreciate about Amelia Rules! is that though Amelia narrates (to the inclusion of addressing the reader) the story is saved from complete self-absorption. Her friends, her mother, and certainly her Aunt Tanner do not hold back when Amelia goes a bit too far in the direction of a mistaken perspective. Aunt Tanner is especially good about providing another side to events or feelings. Aunt Tanner who comforts Amelia after a rough day with ‘The Truth’—per Amelia’s request. Tanner shares “Number 45 in a series of ‘True things adults don’t want kids to know’” (73). In asking for ‘The Truth’ we note an Amelia willing to look at herself and do the hard self-examination; which keeps her honest, and compelling.
When the world has gone crazy, ‘The Truth’ is a preoccupation. Assumptions cannot be relied upon. And by stories end, we find that maybe everyone could use a little grace.
I started reading the Amelia Rules! Series out of sequence (because the last Library District didn’t have them all). The loveliness is, is that you can read them out of order. However, there is the continuity and progression in story and character growth throughout the series; must be why they are numbered and called a ‘series’. It is noticeable that Gownley is getting better and better as the books go along —and a bit more adventurous with his format. As for making use of his creativity and play, The Whole World’s Crazy is the most calm and staid. That said, Gownley’s Amelia Rules! Comics are always an eyeful. Every page is pop candy and bright ink. And for all that goes on in a single panel or page, the progression of the dialogue or narrative is not hard to follow. Amelia is a really great first comic series for anyone new to this story form, especially those who need convincing that the graphic form can be taken seriously.
The story is serious and funny, and not in the least condescending on either count. It is intelligently written and drawn, and is unapologetically opinionated. One criticism, for example: Perhaps children’s venues too often find themselves along the lines of Amelia’s new school Joe McCarthy Elementary: “Weeding out the wrong element since 1952.” That Amelia is uncensored is a large part of her appeal. In World that is Crazy, what does childhood really look like? Amelia is that creative independent thinker many fear–and long for.
Amelia Rules! The Whole World’s Crazy (book 1) by Jimmy Gownley
Renaissance Press, 2006.
About Amelia on her official website
Chris Wilson @ The Graphic Classroom has a good & useful write-up.
My few quick comments on Amelia Rules! Superheroes (#3) here.