Friday, November 20, 2009

REVIEW: Amelia Rules! What Makes You Happy

Gownley, J.  (2006).  Amelia Rules!  What Makes You Happy.  Harrisburg, PA:  Renaissance Press.


168 pages.

PLOT SUMMARY:  Amelia's back to rule again.  In this second installment of the comic books, Amelia must face Valentine's Day, fights with other kids, the death and funeral of a distant relative and *gasp* playing spin the bottle.

While I've previously praised the first graphic novel in this series for depicting the ordinary with both honesty and humor, I do however, have a problem with What Makes You Happy.  You see, it turns out Amelia's aunt, Tanner, who Amelia and her mom came to live with after the divorce, is actually a pop icon from the 1990s.  As people in their small Pennsylvanian town discover this, they begin to treat Amelia differently.  An experience far-removed from most fourth graders.  Sigh.  Other than that though, What Makes You Happy does manage to capture the experience and feelings of a young girl, overall still making this graphic novel very relatable.  


A good book to introduce around Valentine's Day, since there are undertones of awkward romance throughout.

As with other graphic novels, it requires visual literacy as well as textual.  Since Amelia is a relatable character that can be used to try to spark some interest in reading with reluctant readers.  (Although, in many cases, the students reading about Amelia may be older than the character due to the amount of text on each page)

In response to Amelia's stories, readers could look back and reflect on their own experiences with friends and family.  They could write or illustrate about their experiences.


"Let's see, how should it go...I hardly ever get sick.  No that's no good.  Too mushy.  C'mon, c'mon, think!  Oh!  When I think of cookies generally remain un-tossed.  Geez, Amelia.  Why not just say you love him?"

"REGGIE:  Mary Violet isn't exactly a cool superhero name, you know.
MARY VIOLET:  How about Pretty Sunshine Flower Girl?
AMELIA:  That wasn't exactly what Reggie had in mind, either" (pp. 54-55).

"REGGIE:  Members of G.A.S.P.!  The 'Force' is with us!  The enemy's gate is down!  But a shadow rises in the east!  Which seeks to be the ultimate power in the universe!  But by the power of G.A.S.P. we have the power!  Yet with great power comes great responsibility!  And though ninja are a superstitious and cowardly lot, we must be daredevils, the men without fear who boldly go where no one has gone before!  And when we go, we go in search of truth, justice, and the American way!  For the ninjas must know the truth!  For the truth is out there!" (pp. 75-76).

"It's pretty scary.  One day you're a normal kid in a superhero club, and the next you're off kissing ninjas!  I guess it happens to everybody.  But I'll tell you one thing...that's the last kissing this girl plans on doing!  It's way too embarrassing" (p. 115).


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