Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fiction, Fantasy, and YA: Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff by Jennifer L. Holm

Bibliographic data
Holm, Jennifer L..Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff. Pictures by Elicia Castaldi. Ginee Seo Books, New York, 2007. ISBN: 0-689-85281-7

Brief plot summary
Ginny Davis has a big seventh grade year planned. Her “To Do” list consist of getting a dad, getting the role of the Sugarplum Fairy, and looking good in a school photo. Little does she know that her seventh grade year is going to be a roller coaster ride and she better hang on.

Critical analysis
In Middle school is Worse Than Meatloaf, “stuff” represents the life of Ginny Davis and is put into a journal format. “Stuff” includes class schedules, notes from mom, instant messages, cards from grandpa, and graded papers. This is an inventive way to depict a journal and tell a story. Ginny’s life starts off simple and easy, and by the end of the year it is turned upside down through family issues and self discovery. Ginny struggles to find out who she wants to be and where her life has taken her. Jennifer L. Holm has brought together a touching story with very few words paired with pictures created by Elicia Castaldi. This is definitely a creative pairing. Many readers’ will connect to what Ginny is going through: siblings making bad choices, losing that part in the play, or having to deal with a blended family. Although many pages are repetitive, readers are going love “reading” about Ginny’s life through her stuff.

Review excerpts
School Library Journal: “Digitally rendered collage illustrations realistically depict the various means of communication, and the story flows easily from one colorful page to the next.”

Publishers Weekly: “The punchy visuals and the sharp, funny details reel in the audience and don't let go.”

Activities: After reading the book, students will create their own journals using their stuff. They will be required to input a certain number of entries over a specific amount of time.

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