Title: Judy Moody
Author: Megan McDonald
Illustrator: Peter Reynolds
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2000
Where I got it: The library.
Judy Moody is a fun series for young readers, with a spunky heroine who isn't afraid to get her hands dirty. Judy wants to be a doctor when she grows up, is constantly being annoyed by her younger brother Stink, has a bunch of collections of things, and has a Venus fly-trap as a pet. In this first book of the series, she has to figure out what things make her Judy Moody, since her third-grade teacher assigned them to make a ME collage—what will she put on her poster?
I've seen this series around a lot over the past few years, and finally decided to check it out (again, thanks to Anita Silvey's Children's Book-a-Day Almanac). I'm really glad I did. Judy is a great character—certainly not afraid to get her hands dirty, she digs right into any type of experiment or fun prospect despite it's possible yucky-factor. She picks up toads, collects scabs (btw, gross) and finds food for Jaws (the aforementioned Venus fly-trap). Plus, she's got a best friend who's a boy, Rocky, which I think is very cool.
The situations she gets into are incredibly realistic, as are the conversations she has with her family and friends. This is especially true when it comes to Stink—I feel like I had the SAME arguments and back-and-forths with my own younger brothers. Stink talks in an erratic way that sounded all too familiar—just random enough, though the thoughts were sort of connected.
And Peter Reynolds' illustrations are awesome. Sort of doodley and cartoony, they are still incredibly detailed. The first double-page illustration is of Judy's room, and his little touches everywhere (a discarded apple core and ice cream container, posters taped to Judy's wall, a jar labeled "Jelly Bean Collection") make it a lot of fun to explore and examine closely.
I will definitely pick up the next titles in this series—I'm loving Judy's different moods, and the way she gets through each and every conundrum and situation she finds herself in. In this first book, my favorite was her solution for her almost-ruined collage (read it and find out what happens and how she fixes it—so great!).