Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff Jennifer Holm, illustrated by Elicia Cataldi
Ugh. How have I not reviewed this one yet? It's been a favorite for years. Ginny Davis is starting 7th grade, trying to navigate the waters of middle school. She's feuding with her best friend, hoping for a lead in ballet, and trying to keep her dog from eating her science project. Some things are big (her brother getting sent to military school, setting up her mom with the insurance salesman) but most are the minor dramas of the everyday (trying to get back the yellow sweater from your former best friend). Through school assignments, to-do lists, and IMs with her friends, we get a great sense of Ginny's voice.
This is also designed superbly well. It's full color and we don't really get any diary entries or conversation transcripts--this one's pure ephemera. When there are notes on the fridge, we see the fridge in the background. We can see the ever-increasing amount of magnets from the pizza delivery place.
It's a good story about the ups and downs of 7th grade and a super-easy handsell (just show them a random page spread.) It's also pretty funny. I especially like the comics Ginny's older brother draws (guest artist Matthew Holm of Babymouse fame) and the notes from "The Management" aka, Mom.
Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis's Year In Stuff Jennifer Holm, illustrated by Elicia Cataldi
So, there was a lot of buzz this summer that Holm had a new book coming out, but I was over the moon when it came in at the library and I saw that it was a sequel to Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf!
Ginny's back, this time tackling 8th grade and there are some MUCH BIGGER things happening this year. At the beginning of the book, the family is moving to a bigger house. Then Mom gets pregnant, Ginny tries out for cheer and gets a boyfriend. But after Mom quits her job to be a stay-at-home mom and Bob gets laid off and the baby comes really early and Ginny's grades start slipping...
I have two minor complaints--
1. WE WANT MORE GRANDPA JOE! You can never have enough Grandpa Joe. He's the nice old guy who sends you money for things your mom says you can't have-- everyone's dream grandpa. Also, very funny. MORE GRANDPA JOE.
2. It's not as long as the first one. Now, Holm doesn't short the story, it didn't have to be longer, BUT. I can't get enough of Ginny and her family (and that's the thing-- even those these books about Ginny and it's mostly her stuff, you really get to know and care about the rest of the family) and so I just want MORE MORE MORE MORE. (Yes, I'm greedy.)
A nice bonus on this one? There's a LOT of YA book love. And it's pretty subtle. Books that Ginny's reading (mostly about vampires) are part of the background and they're *excellent* choices. They're all great books that teens actually read on their own for fun. (Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith! Also, Babymouse Mad Scientist.;) ) Also, her English teacher ROCKS. They have to read classics and contemporary and he chooses AWESOME contemporary titles (Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins!) So yeah, good book love that's super subtle.
Another awesome bonus-- Ginny's romance. NO DRAMA. It's pretty awesome that way. Also, they're so nerdy together and aren't self-conscious about that. It's super-nice to see a romantic subplot without angst and drama.
With the BIG STUFF going on in this one, it's a bit heavier than the first one, but I really hope this isn't the last we've seen of Ginny.
Also, MAJOR MAJOR props to Elicia Castaldi. So much of this series is the design. A bad design would have killed the story. But this design is SO GOOD and it makes the story. It adds SO MUCH. And it just works SO WELL.
Book Provided by... my local library
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