Amelia Rules! – The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular by Jimmy Gownley – Review
This is not my first taste of Amelia Rules! and Jimmy Gownley, but I am still surprised at how deftly Gownley handles tweenagers as well as their interactions with adults in Amelia Rules! The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular. It is almost like Jimmy lived the life of a tween girl growing up in America, but that would a bit too harsh for such a talented man. Even if he has not been in the minds of tweens with some alien mind device, he hits it out of the park when it comes to providing “real” characters living in a very real suburban world. Amelia McBride goes through what many kids go through these days, and Jimmy knows how to put it in a perfect package of an interesting, well written, and perfectly drawn graphic novel.
Without ruining the plot, I can say that I found this Amelia book very deep–which is not to say the other books do not have a great message behind them, just that this one was a bit more impactful. We get Joan now going to school with Amelia and Rhonda; we get the cool girls Britney and Christina who help move the story along as kids whom Amelia and Rhonda aspire to be even if they do not like them; Mr. Henderson, the good-looking teacher Amelia and Rhonda can crush on; makeovers for the girls; a bit more background on Jenny; an Aunt Tanner flashback; and cheerleading tryouts. Overall, though, the story hinges on the trappings of popularity during these years growing up, be you geek, nerd, or cheerleader. Plus, who does not want to follow the advice of wacky popularity expert Dr. Victoria Medeochrias?
The flashback with Aunt Tanner deserves to be recognized as something special. Not only does Gownley come up with the superb idea of doing the story within a story via an Archie Comics look, it also shows the powerful message that even the popular adults may not have been so popular when they were younger. A very good lesson to teach the kids, and one thing Gownley excels at is putting a powerful message inside of a kid-friendly story. He tempers this story with humor, but not the slapstick low-brow humor you would expect with the kids driving the humor. The humor is more story-driven, which I found to be superb and a bit more subtle.
You may not know some of the characters if you jump into the series at this point, but it will only have a minor effect on your enjoyment. Realistically, though, if you have the time, start at the beginning of these books; it makes The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular that much better.
Do you know there’s no true opposite to the word “catastrophe”?
Amelia McBride and company are about to embark on their most daunting mission yet: navigating the promises and pitfalls of popularity at Joe McCarthy Elementary. A tricky task when you consider an unmatched pair of socks alone can cause ridicule for years to come. Really, though, all the gang wants is not to be unpopular. Rising and falling through the ranks of nerd, geek—and cheerleader?—with advice from wacky popularity expert Dr. Victoria Medeochrias, Amelia and her friends encounter riotous mobs, unfortunate makeovers, and bad catch phrases. Even after things go from bad to worse, Amelia learns there are some things that are just a little bit more important than being popular.
In his first brand new volume in two years, Jimmy Gownley dishes up another hilariously satisfying dose of Amelia Rules!, in what Comics Buyer’s Guide has called “a timeless manner to which readers young and old can easily relate.”