Review by Frank Plowright
On the opening page now ten year old Amelia McBride is considering Valentine’s Day card messages. “When I think of you my cookies generally remain un-tossed. Geez Amelia, why not just say you love him!” Her friends are having similar difficulty constructing their cards, and their frustration settles into bad moods when they meet, only to be instantly lifted by Pajamaman silently handing each of them a cut-out paper heart reading “On Valentine’s Day and all year through it’s always nice being friends with you”. The sequence typifies the charm and humour Gownley brings to Amelia Rules! and those who consider this mawkish sentimentality should stay well away. Their loss.
Central to this volume is Amelia’s discovery that her Aunt Tanner was once a commercially successful singer with a critically acclaimed album to her name. Tanner has her reasons for turning her back on what might have been hers, but to a ten year old the idea of rejecting fame is anathema. Reggie’s superhero club develop a feud with the Park View Terrace ninjas, there’s the horror of the class project, Amelia attends her first funeral and there’s a trip back to Manhattan to meet her best friend.
Amelia remains a step away from comprehending the world, and Gownley details her misunderstandings in charming and sympathetic fashion, his cartooning consistently endearing, and he continues to expand his variety of storytelling techniques. Here we have a three page illustrated children’s story, more of Reggie’s text book style explanations, parental recollections from Amelia’s past in Manhattan portrayed as if on yellowing old comic pages, and tales about Tanner and Amelia’s parents as faux Peanuts newspaper strips.
It’s difficult to discover anything not to like in Amelia Rules! One day all graphic novels will be that way. The series continues with Superheroes.