*Amelia Rules!: The Whole World’s Crazy — Recommended

These all-ages color stories about a girl and her group of friends are funny and touching with enough bite to keep them from being too “kiddy”. Amelia’s parents have just gotten divorced, and she and her mom have moved in with her Aunt Tanner. Like many kids, she sees herself as the only normal one, surrounded by crazy friends and relatives. She hangs out with a varied group of misfits — some of whom really are weird, like Pajamaman, a kid who never speaks or changes out of his sleepwear — to avoid thinking about the trauma she’s facing at home.

Story topics include typical kid activities, like getting distracted by quibbles while trying to watch TV or play freeze tag, or how gross being sick can be. When Amelia’s at school, somehow, everything goes wrong and she always winds up being the one sent to the principal’s office.

Amelia Rules!: The Whole World's Crazy cover
Amelia Rules!:
The Whole World’s Crazy
Buy this book

This book also includes the best Christmas story I’ve ever read. It’s got funny parts and sad parts and inspiring parts and all-too-real parts told in such a way that it becomes timeless. The story takes place in the shadow of September 11th without being overwhelmed by it, quite an artistic feat. Gownley wraps all of his storytelling strengths into a straightforward story that still captures all the many facets of Christmas: gifts, traditions, shopping mall Santas, an increasingly cynical world, family, and thinking more about others than yourself. A lot of people are melancholy around the holidays because they can’t live up to the expectations. This story acknowledges that feeling while showing the reader just why people hope there can be more. It’s not too fantastic, which is what gives it its power. It’s because it’s so well-grounded in reality that it works so well on all the other levels.

The final story gets to the heart of Amelia’s pain. She and her father are supposed to go camping together. He invites her friends to join them as a pleasant surprise for her, but she resents having to share him since she sees him so little otherwise. The only way she knows to show how she’s feeling is to pout; she wants everyone else to feel as bad as she does. How can you not appreciate a story with the message “everyone’s a jerk sometimes”?

Gownley’s characters are well-designed, with a simplicity that suits them. They have friendly faces, and the cartooning is kept simple, easily readable for all ages. Pajamaman, especially, is well-used; he wouldn’t work if he had more focus, but as a supporting character, he provides the perfect joke or adds a great background gag. Amelia’s a smart aleck, as intelligent kids can be, but her wisecracks are actually funny as well as full of attitude.

Flexible panel boundaries are often exceeded by word balloons and character actions, or the panels are simply left open, giving the book an active, welcoming feel. The lettering and balloon styles are creative and imaginative, using the color to great effect to punctuate the scenes. Pages are full of movement to keep the story going; even the monologues take place while opening a window, walking down a hall, or dressing up for an adventure.

These kids are real. That means that sometimes they’re evil, greedy, and self-centered. Sometimes they don’t understand or see things that are obvious to us, and when they do notice, it’s the biggest thing in the world to them. That vision is an eye-opener for the reader, and Gownley is a genius at capturing their perspective. These kids are realistic while still being sympathetic and funny.

There is an Amelia Rules! website.

21 Responses to “*Amelia Rules!: The Whole World’s Crazy — Recommended”

  1. Scott Hassler Says:

    i love amelia rules.

  2. Lea Says:

    I love it when someone writes about Amelia Rules! so I can share that I bought a copy from Gownley himself for my daughter.

    She read it until it disintegrated.

  3. Johanna Says:

    So she obviously needs more — isn’t it great that there’s going to be a new issue for Free Comic Book Day this weekend? Such a charming series, and it inspires such charming stories from parents and kids.

  4. Lea Says:

    FCBD looks like it’s going to have LOTS of awesome books. I’d be excited even if I wasn’t going to be at CAPE! (zeuscomics.com/cape) for FCBD.

  5. Ragnell Says:

    Oh man! I haven’t seen Amelia in forever, I need to find this!

  6. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I have previously reviewed the first book, The Whole World’s Crazy. There’s an additional six-issue storyline (not yet collected) called “Superheroes”, about the possibility of Amelia’s family moving away from her friends. It introduces new groups of characters, including a young girl who dreams of telling her stories as a writer. For Free Comic Book Day 2005, a zero issue was released, with the story of how the gang first met. […]

  7. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Amelia Rules! is an old favorite of mine. In this stand-alone issue, Amelia’s trying to make something special out of the last day of vacation only to find out that her mother is starting to date. […]

  8. Arrested Development: Kids’ Comics for Puerile Adults - from The Zero Boss by Jay Andrew Allen Says:

    […] Amelia Rules! by Jimmy Gownley. This one will, in general, be of less interest to the adult reader (unless you genuinely enjoy kids’ books, which some of us do). The stories are funny and touching, the characters flawed and realistic. Gownley really has his finger on the emotional pulse of childhood, the pain as well as the fun, and how difficult it can be to make sense of the adults around you. Johanna has a useful review, as usual. […]

  9. Ingrid McEachen Says:

    As a mother and a teacher, I would like to thank Jimmy Gownley for writing these graphic novels!!! These books have hooked many students and now these kids read fervently…what a wonderful gift he has given these children!

  10. Coming Up: Books Due in August » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I’d like to have the books in sturdier binding, but since I’ve already bought the first volume twice (before ibooks, it was self-published as In With the Out Crowd), I’ll pass. For […]

  11. Alternate Distribution Methods — Three Examples » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Amelia Rules! has just announced a special edition to be carried through Scholastic Book Fairs and Clubs in the US and Canada. That’s a huge potential kids’ market. […]

  12. Amelia Rules! The Musical » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] of my favorite Christmas comic stories was in Amelia Rules! This season, it’s been turned into a musical debuting in New Hampshire called “A Very […]

  13. Amelia Rules #18 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] issue. The comic can be read online for free at the title’s website. I’ve reviewed two previous collections. […]

  14. Comics in the Classroom » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] choices include some familiar books, those often mentioned when this topic comes up — Bone, Amelia Rules, Clan Apis, Age of Bronze — but they’re common choices because they’re so good […]

  15. Happy Free Comic Book Day! » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] is fantastic, very inviting (although I was a little dismayed they used the first paragraph of my Amelia Rules! review without credit in the Reading List […]

  16. Amelia Rules! Acquired by Simon & Schuster » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] it has acquired the world rights to Jimmy Gownley’s popular comic and graphic novel series Amelia Rules! […]

  17. amelia Says:

    yay. i rule the world!!!1he he

  18. Eye-Opening LinkBlogging » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Gownley, creator of Amelia Rules, did a guest spot as DJ for a radio station that’s a must-listen for any fan of his comic. […]

  19. There Are Too Plenty of Comics for Kids! » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Amelia Rules! […]

  20. Amelia Rules! Returns With The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular and True Things (Adults Don’t Want Kids to Know) » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] The Whole World’s Crazy […]

  21. Amelia Rules! Her Permanent Record » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] The Whole World’s Crazy […]




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