Friday, August 10, 2012

Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf

Title: Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Illustrator: Elicia Castaldi
Publisher: Ginee Seo Books
Publication Date: July, 2007
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Collage
Goodreads Summary: Ginny has ten items on her big to-do list for seventh grade. None of them, however, include accidentally turning her hair pink. Or getting sent to detention for throwing frogs in class. Or losing the lead role in the ballet recital to her ex-best friend. Or the thousand other things that can go wrong between September and June. But it looks like it's shaping up to be that kind of a year! Here's the story of one girl's worst school year ever -- told completely through her stuff.
What I Think: Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff begins as Ginny starts 7th grade and her life was a mix of ups and downs. Her father passed away when she was younger; however, Ginny's wish has come true and her mom has a new, nice boyfriend. Her brother who used to be her hero and friend is getting into trouble left and right. And her best friend is no longer her friend because Ginny got a lead part in a ballet they were in. Seventh grade can only be better, right?
     Jennifer Holm keeps surprising me. Every time I read something by her, I see how amazingly talented she is- if you compare Babymouse, May Amelia and Middle School you would assume they are by different authors; however, all are the work of Jennifer and all are so well done. 
     I love the format of this book. The story is told in a mixture of things- report cards, newspaper clippings, essays, poems, post-it notes, receipts, comics, notes, IMs, etc. It is amazing how an entire story can be told without there actually being a narrative. I, being an English teacher, loved the poetry and essays because it was the parts that really showed Ginny's emotions and the poems especially would be great exemplar texts to use to show students poetry that they could connect with. I also would love to have students "write" a personal narrative in much the same way- I think they would enjoy it and would be a great way to discuss narrative elements and prose in general.
     This book really touched my heart. One of the reasons I am a middle school teacher is because I hope that I can be a shining moment in the students' tough years. I love Ginny and I love that a teacher is important to her and I hope I make an impact like Ginny's teacher did for her. 
Read Together: Grades 4 to 7
Read Alone: Grades 5 to 8
Snatch of Text: "4_Police Blotter
Gnomes Suspiciously Vanish On Pine Street

Woodland Glen, PA- The theft of several garden gnomes from the yard of Mr. and Mrs Noorski has left the neighborhood puzzled. The gnomes, five in all, had been brought over from Norway on a family vacation, and had been a source of pride for many years."

"I don't want to make a lot of fuss, 
but I'll never sit at the back of the bus. 
All the cool kids are sitting there, 
you can tell just by looking at their hair. 
I hear the seats are nicer in the back
not like the ones up here all cracked. 
Just take a look at the window panes. 
They don't even steam up when it rains." 

"Three Meatloaf Haikus

Oh yucky meatloaf
sitting under the hot lights
so gray and gristly. 

Nothing tastes worse than
you, not cauliflower or
even lima beans. 

And what is that weird
thing sticking out-- a whisker?
hair? a rubber band?"

(Page numbers not provided as book is not numbered)
Mentor Text for: Poetry, Collage, Inferring, Personal Narrative
Writing Prompts: Like Ginny, collect items to put together to share a personal story. You can include essays, poems, photos, receipts, text messages, etc. Make sure that the items give enough information for your reader to be able to infer and understand your story.
Topics Covered: Death, Friendship, Family, School
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