- Age Range: 9 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 4 - 7
- Lexile Measure: GN330L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: GRAPHIX (February 25, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0545453461
- ISBN-13: 978-0545453462
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,286,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Dumbest Idea Ever! Hardcover – February 25, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—In this funny and heartfelt graphic memoir by the author of the popular "Amelia Rules" series (Atheneum), Gownley introduces readers to his 13-year-old self. With excellent grades and strong skills on the basketball court, Jimmy is a star at his school until a nasty bout with chicken pox and pneumonia force him to miss over a month of classes and the championship game. While bedridden, the young artist rediscovers his love of comics and soon sets about creating and publishing his very own—a task that is easier said than done. Jimmy's struggle through that awkward divide between childhood and adolescence, the palm-sweating excitement of a first girlfriend, his growing disillusionment with school and homework, and his desire to escape the confines of his small Pennsylvania town and find his own special talent is authentically portrayed and will resonate with kids. Jimmy is at times boisterous and overconfident, while secretly struggling to reconcile the kid he was with the young man he is growing into. His relationships with his parents, his friends, and even some nuns at his strict Catholic school are portrayed with realism and humor. Gownley's energetic cartoons keep the overall tone light and upbeat, while subtle shifts in palette appropriately reflect the story's emotional highs and lows. This charming and inspiring tale will be enjoyed by fans of Raina Telgemeier's Smile (Scholastic, 2010) and aspiring comics creators everywhere.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal
Gownley is well known for his Amelia Rules series, full of crafty storytelling and emotional sensitivity. In his latest offering, he shows what made him the graphic novelist he grew up to be. At 13, with supportive parents and friends and teachers who gave him intellectual tools and encouragement along with hard reality checks, Jimmy creates his first (self-) published comic book, to impressive acclaim. Two years later, with a little more worldliness under his belt, as well as some heartbreak and rocky times with his best friend, Tony, Jimmy turned back to the drawing board to create a much better, more accurate story of his creativity, his dedication, and what shaped him as a successful artist. Gownley’s cartoonish and expressive illustrations send the reader into Jimmy’s world and thoughts, from his early fascination with superheroes right through the bittersweet afterword, in which Gownley reveals that he was able to deliver the completed story of his adolescence to Tony soon before his early death. This is an excellent example of autobiographical sequential art at its most deeply felt. Grades 5-9. --Francisca Goldsmith
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Top Customer Reviews
His atmospheric, wonderfully-rendered characters and settings are evocative of all that was wonderful of the 1980s zeitgeist. Wholesome parochial school replete with kindly nuns (Sister Anne James) and terrifying ones (Sister Regina Alma). Small-town grade school basketball rivalries played out via the local CYO (Catholic Youth Organization). Playing at Star Wars-like adventures in his Girardville neighborhood with best childhood chum, Marnie Marquardt. After being slammed with back-to-back bouts of serious illness, Jimmy comes to the realization that he wants to seriously pursue a vocation as a graphic artist. His mother and dad make every effort to support him with his dream.
Jimmy matriculates to the regional Catholic high school, Cardinal Brennan, making friends with former hoops opponent Tony Graziano. This fresh educational scene also introduces him to his love interest, Ellen Toole. Jimmy shows Tony his comic masterwork (which even the author would self-deprecatingly refer to now as a "comedic" effort) -- but Tony is not only unimpressed, he's dismissive of it. He says one simple line that would stay with young Jimmy forever: "Why not make a comic strip about US?"
Jimmy's done all that. And so much more.
His journey is not simplistic. Jimmy didn't go from amateur output (he released his first volume of seminal work "Shades of Gray" while still in high school) to New York Times bestseller without a great deal of struggle and occasional disappointment.
But his message is unmistakable: don't give up! Dream big! And have faith in your own ability and give thanks to God for it, and for those He's blessed you with along the way to help you.
"The Dumbest Idea Ever" is redolent of two things: hope and joy. My own hope is that many young readers will encounter this work and joyfully pursue their own paths and talents with great confidence as a result of it.
As for the flashlight: I had to make him turn off his light well after the normal bedtime, but somehow he managed to finish the book before breakfast the next morning. A sure sign of a hit in our home. I definitely recommend this book!