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Friday, July 03, 2009

The Plain Janes - Cecil Castellucci

Just read the Plain Janes last evening. It's an Oregon Battle of the Books choice for grades 6-8. The Plain Janes is a graphic novel that revolves around a girl names Jane and the new friends she makes at her new school, Buzz Aldrin HS. All of them are also named Jane (in one form or another). Jane had to move to suburbia when there was a bombing incident in the where she lived city and she was hurt. Her parents freaked out (as well they might have) and took her away from everything and everyone she knows. Jane's lonely, so she is trying to get these new friends to do things together. To do this, she hatches a plan to create a group call P.L.A.I.N. - People Loving Art In Neighborhoods. The group's mission will be to do "art attacks" on the city. The girls love it, and all their friends (who don't know it's them) love it. The city, does NOT love it. This is a story of the power of art and the power of kids!

There's a discussion about this book happening right now at Readergirlz. Tune in if you're interested in learning more.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of graphic novels because I really love to get deep into a story (I'm not a huge short story fan either), but as a librarian I really like them because graphic novels pull many kids in in ways traditional books do not.
I also love the message in this book and believe it's definitely true that art saves AND that kids have the power to make change. What better way to "illustrate" the power of art than through a graphic novel, too!

I am concerned, however, that this particular GN will not appeal to my 6th graders that much, and they are the main Battle of the Books competitors. I'll be interested to see how they like it. It felt like 8th graders and up would really "get" this book, but I don't know that 6th graders will. I'm afraid many of them are going to obsess over a few things that they're not mature enough to handle and miss the main points. We'll see.

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