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The Dumbest Idea Ever!
     

The Dumbest Idea Ever!

by Jimmy Gownley
 

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What if the dumbest idea ever turned your life upside down?

At thirteen, Jimmy was popular, at the top of his class, and the leading scorer on his basketball team. But all that changed when chicken pox forced him to miss the championship game. Things went from bad to worse when he got pneumonia and missed even more school. Before Jimmy knew it, his grades were

Overview


What if the dumbest idea ever turned your life upside down?

At thirteen, Jimmy was popular, at the top of his class, and the leading scorer on his basketball team. But all that changed when chicken pox forced him to miss the championship game. Things went from bad to worse when he got pneumonia and missed even more school. Before Jimmy knew it, his grades were sinking and nothing seemed to be going right.

How did Jimmy turn things around, get back on top at school, and land a date with the cutest girl in class?

Renowned comics creator Jimmy Gownley shares his adventures as he grows from an eager-to-please boy into a teenage comic book artist. This is the real-life story of how the DUMBEST idea ever became the BEST thing that ever happened to him.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER!

* "Gownley's story is wonderful; his small-town life is so vividly evinced it's difficult to not get lost in it."--KIRKUS, starred review

"This is an excellent example of autobiographical sequential art at its most deeply felt."--BOOKLIST

"It's a deeply personal and genuine work of autobiography, and an open letter of assurance to aspiring artists everywhere."--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-11-13
The charismatic creator of the Eisner-nominated Amelia Rules! series recounts his beginnings as a cartoonist. From the very first panel, Gownley's graphic memoir is refreshingly different. He's not the archetypal nerd, and he doesn't retreat to draw due to feelings of loneliness or isolation. Gownley seems to be a smart kid and a talented athlete, and he has a loyal group of friends and a girlfriend. After he falls ill, first with chicken pox and then pneumonia, he falls behind in school and loses his head-of-the-class standing--a condition he is determined to reverse. A long-standing love of comics leads him to write his own, though his first attempt is shot down by his best friend, who suggests he should instead write a comic about their group. He does, and it's an instant sensation. Gownley's story is wonderful; his small-town life is so vividly evinced, it's difficult to not get lost in it. While readers will certainly pick up on the nostalgia, it should be refreshing--if not completely alien--for younger readers to see teens interacting without texting, instead using phones with cords. Eagle-eyed readers will also be able to see the beginnings of his well-loved books about Amelia. He includes an author's note that shouldn't be overlooked--just be sure to keep the tissues handy. Humble, endearing and utterly easy to relate to; don't miss this one. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 10 & up)
Publishers Weekly
12/02/2013
Like the superheroes he’s so fond of, cartoonist Gownley’s own “origin story” has its share of tragedy and triumph, though his doesn’t involve any dead relatives. As a teenager in a Pennsylvania small town, Gownley excelled at school and basketball (less so, at least initially, with getting girls to like him), but his true passion was drawing. His mantra-like refrain, “I still have my desk... some pencils... some paper,” centered the budding cartoonist, who wrote, drew, and self-published his own comic book at age 15, a task he found both trying and rewarding. It takes a few years and a couple dashed hopes, but eventually Gownley realizes that drawing inspiration from his own life into his comics is his life’s calling (and he learns not to neglect his personal relationships in the process). As in his Amelia Rules! series, Gownley plays it pretty straight visually, relying on an accessible, Peanuts-influenced style accompanied by effective hand lettering. It’s a deeply personal and genuine work of autobiography, and an open letter of assurance to aspiring artists everywhere. Ages 10–12. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Leona Illig
Growing up and entering high school is always fraught with setbacks and challenges. Jimmy, however, seems to have it made. An academic wiz and a star on the basketball team, the future looks bright—until he comes down with chicken pox, and then pneumonia, and misses a lot of school. Then everything falls apart. His hometown of Girardville, in Pennsylvania coal mining country, is home to six churches and seventeen bars, and it has never looked drearier. Furthermore, the teachers at his Catholic high school have never seemed so unsympathetic. Life does not seem to have any point until he visits a comic book store and decides to pursue his passion: writing and drawing comics. His first attempt (a take-off on Star Wars and Lord of the Rings) is not a roaring success. But then he decides to follow the advice of his best friend: why not write about themselves—ordinary teenagers? What follows is the story of how Jimmy finds himself and success when he commits himself to doing what he loves. This is a serious graphic novel, about the author's own experiences. There is humor here, but it underlies real-life themes dealing with depression, rejection, and friendship. The illustrations are well drawn, and the author, appropriately, reserves entire pages to illustrate big emotions. At the end of the book is an "Author's Note," which explains why Gownley wrote the book, and what happened to him and some of his friends after they grew up. Gownley is the successful author of the "Amelia Rules!" series and is active in organizations that promote comic books and graphic novels in education. This touching autobiographical story is probably one of his finest works. Reviewer: Leona Illig
School Library Journal
05/01/2014
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545453462
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
02/25/2014
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
1,331,667
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
GN330L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author


Jimmy Gownley began writing and drawing comics at age 15 and has been nominated for the Eisner Award 13 times. In 2001 his hit series AMELIA RULES! was released amid a flurry of rave reviews. He cofounded the organization Kids Love Comics, which works to promote comic books and graphic novels as a valuable tool for literacy and education in schools, libraries, and at home. Jimmy lives in Harrisburg, PA.

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