A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis's Year in Stuff is by the Newbery Honor Book author of Turtle in Paradise, Jennifer L. Holm. It portrays several months in Ginny's eighth-grade life, cleverly revealing details about her and her family through the same scrapbook-style Holm used in used in Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf, which chronicled Ginny's year in seventh grade. Pages show possessions, Post-It notes, homework assignments, calendars, email, texts, and more. Ginny and her family -- mom, stepdad Bob, and three brothers -- suffer several financial and medical problems, and Holm manages to convey emotional magnitude even in this somewhat limited storytelling style. Ginny's online chat group includes some minor violent or sexual overtones, and Ginny mentions that her mom showed her "boobs" while nursing baby Ballou. Note: The target audience is definitely younger than eighth graders; Ginny's "voice" is much more like that of an 11-year-old than a 13-year-old.
What's the story?
EIGHTH GRADE IS MAKING ME SICK: GINNY DAVIS'S YEAR IN STUFF, by three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm, author of Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf, portrays several months in the life of eighth grader Ginny Davis. In the same scrapbook-style, pages show possessions, Post-It notes, text and email messages, online chat screens, poems, to-do lists, family financial documents, and more. Combined, these photo collages (by illustrator Elicia Castaldi) convey Ginny's wishes for the school year ("try out for cheer," "convince Mom to let me bike to school," "work on art"). Not all of Ginny's wishes come true, but her flawed, loving family and friends anchor her. The writing, usually from Ginny's point of view, is often humorous, but addresses some serious family issues as well as less weighty eighth-grade-type concerns.
Is it any good?
In a sense, with its snapshot, graphics-centric approach, Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick presumes a short attention span on the part of young readers, which can be disheartening. However, it's also quite impressive in the extent to which it conveys real emotion and depicts a believable, imperfect family. The novel is undeniably engaging, funny and moving. It's a quick, entertaining read that will resonate with young readers, though it's worth noting that the target audience is definitely younger than eighth grade. Ginny's "voice" is much more like that of an 11-yea- old than a 13-year-old.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Ginny's interest in the fictional TV show Vampire Vixens. Why do you think teens are so interested in stories about vampires?
Does Ginny seem like a realistic eighth-grader to you? What about her seems believable, and what doesn't?
Why does Ginny become sick?
- Author: Jennifer L. Holm
- Illustrator: Elicia Castaldi
- Genre: Family Life
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House Children's Books
- Publication date: August 7, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 128
- Available on: Hardback
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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