Monday, September 1, 2008

Book of the Semi-Month Club

In which I discuss another chapter book, Judy Moody Goes to College, by Megan McDonald. Chapter books are known for humor, and Judy Moody's adventures are no exception. Third-grader Judy goes to school on Monday and finds that she has a new teacher, and "her new teacher was called a sub (not the sandwich)." Her real teacher, Mr. Todd, is in Bologna, Italy, and Judy knows Italy has a dance called the tarantella. She thinks: "Mr. Todd was probably in the Land of Baloney right now, dancing like a tarantula, while they were stuck in the Land of Multiplication." Judy doesn't like math. During math, she'd rather press the buttons on her "robin's-egg-blue, glow-in-the-dark Ask-a-Question Watch 5000."

A note goes home: Judy needs remedial math. Her younger brother Stink, who knows his times tables, is ecstatic. This means a tutor, he says, and tutors have flash cards. Baby flash cards. And make you count jelly beans in a jar. But to Judy's complete surprise her dad takes her for her first tutoring session to the "Math Lab" at Colonial College, where she meets her tutor, uber-funky college student Chloe Canfield. "My friends call me C-squared, since my name has two Cs and I go to CC. You know, C to the second power, 'cause I'm into math?" Judy and Chloe play games, visit the coffee bar, count different colored VW bugs on campus and graph them, and Judy goes from having "Mad-i-tude" to "Math-i-tude" along with developing a very funky sense of style. College life goes to Judy's head, though, and she progresses to "Brat-i-tude," "Cat-i-tude," and even "Flunk-i-tude" before eventually reaching "Glad-i-tude," when, upon the return of her regular teacher, Judy reports to her parents, "Professor Todd gave us a pop quiz in math today, and I owned it."

A glossary of college slang ends the book ("Judy Moody's Not-Webster's New World College Dictionary"). Amid all the fun, readers are left with the message that college can not only teach you what you need to know, but expose you to all kinds of things you never tried and didn't know you were good at. Almost makes this math major want to go back. :)

9 comments:

PJ Hoover said...

Sounds like a great book!

Marcia said...

I enjoyed it a lot. I think it's both funny and witty -- witty in that McDonald doesn't just pull off a funny line every now and then; she sees every opportunity for humor and gets the words right. It's instructive in that this is the kind of competition chapter-book writers are up against.

Angela said...

My youngest loves JM books. We haven't read this one yet; I'll keep a lookout for it. I love her humor!

Oh & youngest got so upset that we never found out the real name of Mrs. in Junie B Jones. But I asked her if she wished she knew Stink's real name and she said, "It's just Stink!"

Anne Spollen said...

It's amazing what a good sense of character I get just from the few sentences I read on your blog.

It sounds like one of those situations where you become amazed at the excellence of the writing; then alternately worried that your writing will never measure up...

Definitely going to check this out!

Marcia said...

Angela -- how interesting that your daughter feels differently about the two names. I suppose we never find out real names because in Junie's and Judy's POVs the people are simply Mrs. and Stink, respectively. I wonder if it's the feeling of incompleteness in the first case -- I mean, a Mrs. has to be Mrs. Something?

Anne -- yes, I think it's kind of like that. Part of you is enjoying how well done it is, and the rest is realizing how clever we have to be . . .

Angela said...

Sounds like a good read. I miss college still to this day. I was not a very good student early on in elementary(terrible in math and spelling, too) but as I grew older I realized I loved learning.

Marcia said...

I miss college a little. I'm not one who wants to do any part of life over again (most of it was fine, but that was then), but if I had a time machine I'd go back to college for a week or so. :)

Becca said...

College was definitely my favorite. Didn't take many math courses, thankfully.

Thanks for doing this review, Marcia. When I taught first grade, the kids were all about Junie B and Amber Brown; I never made it to Judy Moody, but I heard a lot about her.

Marcia said...

Yes, lots of kids who like Junie and Amber also like Judy. I keep returning to her because of how well the humor is done. Just naming a girl's little brother STINK is a brilliant move . . .:)