Two-time Newbery Honor author Holm (Our Only May Amelia ) and Castaldi (Miss Polly Has a Dolly ) gather an eclectic assemblage of "stuff" to chronicle the intermittently bumpy year of a smart, sassy seventh grader. As the months pass, Ginny tackles an impressive to-do list. Among the entries: "Get a dad" (she does, when her widowed mother remarries); "Get the role of the Sugarplum Fairy" (she doesn't; worse, her former best friend--who never returned the sweater she borrowed--does); and "Convince mom to let me go see Grampa Joe over Easter break" (he lives in Florida). Ginny also writes poems and IMs friends, and her older brother, Henry, draws a series of comics. The collages that make up the pages here look perky: appealing mixes of objects like bottle-cap linings and candy wrappers, or spreads that combine hair dye boxes, drugstore receipts, salon bills for "color reversal" and a bank check to tell a story. But the inviting format disguises a darker side. Ginny worries, with cause, about Henry, who drinks and drives; resents her new stepfather's ways; and her normally excellent grades take an abrupt nosedive. The everyday tensions of seventh grade show up, too, via the ex-best friend and a pesky little brother. The punchy visuals and the sharp, funny details reel in the audience and don't let go. Ages 8-12. (July)[Page 82]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gr 5-7-- Ginny Davis begins seventh grade with a list of items to accomplish. This list, along with lots of other "stuff"--including diary entries, refrigerator notes, cards from Grandpa, and IM screen messages--convey a year full of ups and downs. Digitally rendered collage illustrations realistically depict the various means of communication, and the story flows easily from one colorful page to the next. Ginny is fairly typical--she wants to look good for her school picture but ends up with a hair disaster the night before. She babysits but can't seem to increase her bank balance. She has problems with friends, boys, and clothes. But readers also learn about some deeper issues. She has a hard time adjusting to a new stepfather, and her older brother has difficulties with alcohol and poor behavior choices. Ginny's pain is expressed through report card grades that drop to Cs and hall passes to the school counselor. However, the year ends on a high note as she discovers a talent for art and gets asked to the Spring Fling. The story combines honesty and humor to create a believable and appealing voice. Not quite a graphic novel but not a traditional narrative either, Holm's creative book should hook readers, especially girls who want something out of the ordinary.--Diana Pierce, Running Brushy Middle School, Cedar Park, TX[Page 198]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.