A few years ago, I came across the Amelia Rules! series. It looked cute and a bit snarky, which I prefer my YA reading to be. The series didn’t disappoint. When I was looking through graphic novels in my local library, I saw a new Amelia Rules! and promptly scooped it up. Thankfully, Jimmy Gownley’s still got it. Great art with varied art styles as homages to other artists, fantastically developed characters, and snarktastic and nifty writing.
This particular book centers around the titular Amelia and her friends as they navigate popularity and social interactions in elementary school. This story opens with Amelia and her sometimes friend Rhonda running from the riot they incited at school. And we’re talking full-blown, being-chasing-through-the-town-straight-up-a-tree-until-the-sun-goes-down, riot. What could be so bad that an entire student body goes against them? Well, I recommend reading the book but let’s just say it involves tweenage social pressure, an overly heavy dose of honesty, and homemade space suits. How Amelia and her friends deal with this fallout is the best part, though, and includes a hilarious fake book called The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular. There are many gems in this “book.” For instance, the chapter on makeovers alone is worth the price of admission (for a library book…yeah, I think I misused that metaphor…anyway):
Phase Two: MAKEOVERS
Face it. We live in a country where 83% of all citizens are obese and the other 17% have eating disorders. Now, I know I just made those statistics up, but doesn’t change the fact that unless you’re 60% plastic, there’s probably something wrong with the way you look.
Many people misunderstand the point of makeovers. Makeovers are not about making you look good, they are about making you look trendy. Also, they are about making you appear to be something you are not. This works to your advantage, though, as what you are must not be much, or you wouldn’t be reading this book.
If you’re still at a loss for where to start, my rule of thumb is to dress and act as age inappropriate as possible. The chart below should prove to be a useful makeover guide for the rest of your soon-to-be trend-obsessed life.
Ages 12-16 – Dress like an 18-2-year-old, act like a 25-30-year-old.
Ages 17-21 – Dress like a 25-3-year-old, act like a 12-year-old.
Ages 22-30 – Dress like a 16-year-old, act like an old Madonna song.
Ages 31-45 – Dress like a 50-year-old, read your old yearbook a lot.
Ages 46-up – Just try to stay indoors as much as possible.
Of course, it’s done way over the top to make create a clear juxtaposition of what healthy vs. unhealthy beauty and self image standards. But it’s done well and with a big dose of humor. But what scares me is that the dress guide is fairly accurate for some people. I know 30-year-olds who dress like they’re 16 and kinda act like an old Madonna song. We all do. That’s why Comics Buyer’s Guide says that Jimmy Gownley has a “a timeless manner to which readers young and old can easily relate.” There are things in here for the kids, and for the parents and relatives of the kids that will hopefully read this to/with them. For example, one of the chapters is called “Juliana Hatfield vs. Dr. Bones McCoy.” Not necessarily a reference you’d expect in a “normal” YA/children’s graphic novel. Unless the graphic novel and/or the kids were AWESOME. Like this graphic novel is.
Side note: a few years ago, when I first came across these books, my ex-husband was able to get some for free through work and when I realized we had duplicates, I sent them off to his cousin, a school teacher, mother with a daughter the perfect age for these graphic novels, and AWESOME. She thanked me profusely, saying she and her daughter greatly enjoyed them. See? Awesome.