The latest from Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm is a seventh-grader's overly dramatic account of a new school year. A scrapbook of candy wrappers, instant messages, postcards and receipts helps to convey the story of Ginny Davis' middle school trials. Middle School Is Worse than Meatloaf is at the same time both comical and insightful. Ginny writes haikus about meatloaf and an essay about her father's death. Holm, who collaborates on the graphic novel series Babymouse with her brother Matthew, smoothly unites the various liberating and devastating events of an awkward time of life to accurately portray the inner and outer turmoil endured by adolescents. As Ginny's story concludes, we find that perhaps middle school isn't so bad—after all, it ends eventually. Copyright 2007 BookPage Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2007 July #1
To-do lists, instant messages, Post-it notes, report cards, newspaper clippings, school assignments, letters and notes-to-self graphically tell the story of Ginny's seventh-grade year. Family issues, including her mother's remarriage and her brother's increasingly disturbing delinquent acts, share equal billing with friendship problems, changing interests and a first kiss in this convincing account of a middle-schooler's life. Ginny's efforts to follow uplifting magazine advice consistently result in disaster. Adjusting to a new dad turns out to be more difficult than she expected. Her former best friend gets the starring role in The Nutcracker. And her monthly bank statement consistently shows a balance of $5 no matter how many deposits are made. But the boy whose negative attention was the bane of her existence in the beginning of the year is her date for Spring Fling, and new interests replace her former passion for ballet. Humor balances the serious issues. Middle-school readers will recognize Ginny's world and enjoy piecing together the plot through the bits and pieces of "stuff" depicted in Castaldi's collages. A delightful collaboration. (Graphic fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection - November/December 2007
All the important events in Ginny's seventh grade year are told through notes, lists, doodles, poems, cut-outs, cartoons, and stickers. Ginny's family includes an older brother who gets into trouble with the law, her five- year-old brother, and her mother. When Ginny was little, her father died when hit by a drunk teenager. Now Ginny's mother has married Bob, which seems to be OK with Ginny. At school, Ginny shows success and failure through her science papers. A non-traditional, refreshing way to tell a story, this book uses humor and sarcasm to fill readers in on everything important in Ginny's life. It's amazing how much there is to learn about her just through lists and other notes. Especially funny are the notes Ginny's mother (The Management) leaves for her. Recommended. Bonnie L. Raasch, Media Specialist, C. B. Vernon Middle School, Marion, Iowa Â© 2007 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 July #4
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.