Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Elli McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth McNally Barshaw

Ellie's parents have to go to a funeral, which means Ellie's stuck with her aunt, uncle, three cousins AND her baby brother for a whole week!  Not only that, but they're going camping.  But not REAL camping, like Ellie's family does.  They'll be staying in a cabin, all crammed together.  How will Ellie ever survive?

I got this because I thought it was a graphic novel, but it's not actually.  It's an illustrated novel, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  It was really cute though.  Ellie has a LOT of opinions, so thank goodness she has a notebook to write to and draw in.  Of course, as anyone who has ever read Harriet the Spy could tell you, secret notebooks are bound to get stolen and read by the wrong people, which will get you into trouble.  Ellie's cousin Eric, who she draws as a monster in her notebook, finds it, and reads it, and is angry.  Her aunt sees it too, and reads all the unflattering things Ellie has said about her aunt, uncle and cousins.  This leads to a turning point for Ellie.

Ellie looks down on her cousins, aunt and uncle.  They sleep in a cabin when they go camping.  Her family really camps, in a tent.  They play regular tag.  Ellie's family plays much more creative and imaginative games.  She has her reasons for feeling out of place, but even when the family makes an effort, Ellie can only see how it's different and not as good as her family.  I felt like Ellie really captured a middle school kids feelings about being out of her element and away from her family.

Great read for middle school.

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