Kids love comic books, and summer is a great time to let them loose on this genre. There's a relatively new series that your 3rd to 5th grader will want to check out. The Whole World's Crazy (Amelia Rules) by Jimmy Gownley is hilarious, fun to read and offers up quite a cast of characters.
Amelia is a sassy fourth grader who has moved with her mom from New York City to a town in Pennsylvania because of divorce. Together they live with her mom's young, hip, rock n' roll sister Aunt Tanner. Although she's the new kid in town, she manages to put together a ragtag, yet endearing, group of friends (the G.A.S.P.'s--the Gathering of Awesome Superpals). These friends-Reggie, Rhonda, Pajamaman and Amelia-get into all sorts of scrapes and trouble, which will have you and your kids reeling.
Gownley manages to take on familiar things that make up childhood, like freeze tag, P.E. and trick or treating, adds some manic twists and crazy characters, and the results are freewheeling situations you never want to end. But, there's also a softer side to Amelia Rules, which Gownley handles deftly. For instance, Amelia thinks she's the reason for her parent's divorce, and it's dealt with in a way that kids will understand and relate to. And in one of the more poignant stories in the book, Amelia discovers that Pajamaman comes from a family that has little money, and she ends up doing something very generous for him (and it doesn't seem out of character).
A lot goes on in Amelia Rules. By that, I mean that there are a lot of words and subplots going on in this comic book format. It will keep your kids entertained for hours. It also has much to say about heavier subjects such as divorce, broken promises by parents and poverty. But it does it in a way that kids will understand, and it won't be the last thing they remember about the book. What they will remember are the weird kids and funny situations they manage to get themselves into. They'll want to read more, so be prepared to buy the next installment of Amelia Rules, which comes out at the end of August.
BookNosher Tidbit: There's a non-profit organization called Kids Love Comics! that is "dedicated to increasing awareness and interest in kids' comics through innovative marketing and promotional techniques, and to increasing the comic book medium's sales potential by making kids' comics readily available to the general public through both new and traditional venues." Check it out.
BookNosher Activity: There is a website devoted to Amelia called "Ameliarules", which includes an interview with Jimmy Gownley, information about the characters as well as some activities for kids to do. It also promises that Curriculum Guides for parents and teachers will be available soon.