A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The Dumbest Idea Ever re-creates an important moment in the history of comics and graphic novels. Set between 1985 and 1990, the memoir ably conveys what it was like to be interested in comics at a time when few people took them seriously.
The Dumbest Idea Ever promotes the notion that mastery of an art takes time, that artists need to be prepared for both accolades and disappointment. It also emphasizes that real life's sometimes good fodder for art.
Positive Role Models
Jimmy Gownley portrays himself as an eager-to-please but undisciplined middle school student. In high school, he starts to lose his way, but his best friend Tony and his girlfriend Ellen keep him grounded. The adult characters -- even the nuns who teach at Jimmy's school -- are presented as caring and supportive.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Jimmy develops a crush on a classmate, Ellen Toole. They date for a while but eventually break up. They are shown holding hands, and it's suggested that they kiss.
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Products & Purchases
The Dumbest Idea Ever contains veiled allusions to comic-book characters from 1985 to 1990.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Dumbest Idea Ever is a funny, affecting memoir in graphic novel form. Set between 1985 and 1990, it depicts an important time in comic book history, when people began taking comics seriously and an ambitious high school student could experiment with publishing his own illustrated stories. Jimmy Gownley depicts his friend, parents, teachers and his own younger self with respect and affection. There's no violence, objectionable language, or substance use, and there's just a suggestion that two dating teens kiss.
Is It Any Good?
The Dumbest Idea Ever is a smart, funny, and affecting memoir in graphic novel form. Author and illustrator Jimmy Gownley does an excellent job of capturing the highs and lows of middle school and early high school, depicting his friends, parents, teachers, and himself with affection and respect. The book also shows that art isn't easy, not even comic book art. Just as he has lessons to learn about being a good student or a good friend, Jimmy has to re-evaluate his own talent. The Dumbest Idea Ever doesn't wallow in fake angst; it's refreshingly realistic in how it approaches its subject.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.