Friday, May 4, 2012

Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel

Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel (Ellie #1)
Ruth McNally Barnshaw
Bloomsbury, 2007
$12.99, Hardcover
February 26th, 2012

Genre: Realistic, Humor
Age: 7+
Description: Ellie McDougal is known as “McDoodle” because she is constantly chronicling her life in a series of sketchbooks that she writes and doodles in. When her parents need to go out of town on an emergency, Ellie is shipped off to face a week long camping trip with her aunt, uncle, cousins, and baby brother. Can Ellie survive a week of torture with the family members she can’t stand?
Opinion: Part graphic novel, part confessional journal, part wilderness/family survival guide, Ellie’s story is unique and rings true with a young person’s worldview. Not much really actually happens in the story, but Ellie does grow, especially after Er-iick reads her book and her Aunt Mug (whom she calls Aunt Ug) has a heart to heart with her admitting that she too wanted to be an artist when she was young but had her hopes squashed by her parents so while Ellie’s journal might have hurt others’ feelings her Aunt doesn’t want to stifle her creativity (kind of reminds me of a nicer update of Harriet the Spy’s troubles). Ellie realizes that she has things in common with her cousins and matures from the experience. Readers will enjoy watching the world unfold around Ellie’s point of view—the annoying baby brother, an annoying car ride, a prissy cousin, Er-iick who is so disgusting Ellie always draws him as a monster, how Ellie and her cousins bond when they get lost in the woods, typical sibling rivalries, etc. Ellie starts out determined to hate the trip and turns out actually enjoying herself. Give this to readers looking for something similar to Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, and the Popularity Papers series.

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