Reviews for Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf : A Year Told Through Stuff

Booklist Reviews 2007 October #2
The title pulls readers right in as does the equally arresting cover, featuring a school lunch on a limp paper plate. So do the glossy, full-color collages of notes, report cards, receipts, and paraphernalia inside. Readers piece together the story of Ginny's seventh-grade year through the clues in her "stuff." An announcement of school photos precedes a magazine clipping "5 Ways to Look Pretty Now" and a drugstore receipt. The next page reveals a $477 plumber's bill to replace parts damaged by bubble bath in the Jacuzzi jets and $143.10 for a haircut and color to change Ginny's hair back to blonde and remove the burned ends. Hidden among the detritus of a life lies a touching, funny story of Ginny's tumultuous year as her mother remarries, her brother's pranks escalate, and she struggles to find a new best friend. While none of the themes are explored deeply, the book makes a fun, appealing read. Think Kate Klise's Regarding the Fountain (1998) for middle-schoolers. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 July #1
To-do lists, instant messages, Post-it notes, report cards, newspaper clippings, school assignments, letters and notes-to-self graphically tell the story of Ginny's seventh-grade year. Family issues, including her mother's remarriage and her brother's increasingly disturbing delinquent acts, share equal billing with friendship problems, changing interests and a first kiss in this convincing account of a middle-schooler's life. Ginny's efforts to follow uplifting magazine advice consistently result in disaster. Adjusting to a new dad turns out to be more difficult than she expected. Her former best friend gets the starring role in The Nutcracker. And her monthly bank statement consistently shows a balance of $5 no matter how many deposits are made. But the boy whose negative attention was the bane of her existence in the beginning of the year is her date for Spring Fling, and new interests replace her former passion for ballet. Humor balances the serious issues. Middle-school readers will recognize Ginny's world and enjoy piecing together the plot through the bits and pieces of "stuff" depicted in Castaldi's collages. A delightful collaboration. (Graphic fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 July #4

Two-time Newbery Honor author Holm (Our Only May Amelia ) and Castaldi (Miss Polly Has a Dolly ) gather an eclectic assemblage of "stuff" to chronicle the intermittently bumpy year of a smart, sassy seventh grader. As the months pass, Ginny tackles an impressive to-do list. Among the entries: "Get a dad" (she does, when her widowed mother remarries); "Get the role of the Sugarplum Fairy" (she doesn't; worse, her former best friend--who never returned the sweater she borrowed--does); and "Convince mom to let me go see Grampa Joe over Easter break" (he lives in Florida). Ginny also writes poems and IMs friends, and her older brother, Henry, draws a series of comics. The collages that make up the pages here look perky: appealing mixes of objects like bottle-cap linings and candy wrappers, or spreads that combine hair dye boxes, drugstore receipts, salon bills for "color reversal" and a bank check to tell a story. But the inviting format disguises a darker side. Ginny worries, with cause, about Henry, who drinks and drives; resents her new stepfather's ways; and her normally excellent grades take an abrupt nosedive. The everyday tensions of seventh grade show up, too, via the ex-best friend and a pesky little brother. The punchy visuals and the sharp, funny details reel in the audience and don't let go. Ages 8-12. (July)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2007 September

Gr 5-7-- Ginny Davis begins seventh grade with a list of items to accomplish. This list, along with lots of other "stuff"--including diary entries, refrigerator notes, cards from Grandpa, and IM screen messages--convey a year full of ups and downs. Digitally rendered collage illustrations realistically depict the various means of communication, and the story flows easily from one colorful page to the next. Ginny is fairly typical--she wants to look good for her school picture but ends up with a hair disaster the night before. She babysits but can't seem to increase her bank balance. She has problems with friends, boys, and clothes. But readers also learn about some deeper issues. She has a hard time adjusting to a new stepfather, and her older brother has difficulties with alcohol and poor behavior choices. Ginny's pain is expressed through report card grades that drop to Cs and hall passes to the school counselor. However, the year ends on a high note as she discovers a talent for art and gets asked to the Spring Fling. The story combines honesty and humor to create a believable and appealing voice. Not quite a graphic novel but not a traditional narrative either, Holm's creative book should hook readers, especially girls who want something out of the ordinary.--Diana Pierce, Running Brushy Middle School, Cedar Park, TX

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