Diane Prather

Diane Prather

Diane Prather: Creative book talks about facing changes

— The cover of this week's picture book bears three warnings: "Private," "Mind Your Beeswax" and "Top Secret." An inside credit page goes a step further. The "Danger: Radioactive" warning is accompanied by a drawing of a skull and cross bones.

"Amelia's Notebook" was written by Marissa Moss (except, of course, for words and pictures by Amelia.) The book is intended for ages 8 and up.

Amelia is a 9-year-old girl who faces a lot of changes.

Her family is moving to a new house in a new city and state.

Mom gives Amelia a blank notebook in which to write down her thoughts.

Mom thinks writing on the notebook will help Amelia feel better. Amelia thinks nothing will help her feel better, but she writes and draws in the notebook anyway. The reader is in for a treat.

Amelia' begins filling the notebook with her thoughts, labeled drawings, margin notes, stories and designed stamps (The book is completely hand printed.)

For example, Amelia's journal begins the day they move.

She draws a sketch of the empty room that she shared with older sister Cleo. There's the wallpaper design, windows without curtains, the outlet where a lamp was plugged in, and even the "mysterious" stain on the rug left from Amelia's science project.

Amelia draws the moving van, too, and a pile of boxes that have arrows pointing up. In the page's margin she draws things that were loaded in the van, such as her colored rubber band collection and a glow-in-the-dark yo-yo that almost got left behind because it was under the bed.

A humorous addition to the journal is an age-appropriate description and drawings of sister Cleo, better known as "Miss Perfect" and "Jelly Roll Nose." The warnings on the notebook's cover are probably for Cleo.

Amelia misses Nadia, her red-haired friend from the old school. Nadia wears braces, which remind Amelia of railroad tracks. So under a drawing of her friend, Amelia sketches a railroad track that runs along white teeth. An engine pulls little cars that carry jello mush and cookie crumbs (stuck in the teeth).

Later on, when doing another sketch of Nadia, Amelia gets to thinking how hard it is to draw noses. As a result, she devotes an entire page to different kinds of noses. The reader finds a curly nose, pig nose, button nose, jelly roll nose and lots more. There's even a witch's nose that looks more like a green pickle with warts. Amelia even draws a box of Kleenex and crumpled tissue.

Through Amelia's journal entries, the reader learns about settling into a new home and meeting new friends at Pioneer Elementary. Included are two stories Amelia writes for the Authors' Faire, too.

The front inside cover of the notebook has a write-in space for school schedule and the back inside cover has a page of "Useful Information" (about measurements.) Amelia fills in both with humorous notes. For example, "That's Cleo" is written next to "1 great gross."

This creative, humorous book is published by American Girl, (Pleasant Company Publications,) 1999. It costs $12.95 in hardcover. ISBN 1-56247-785-4

Copyright Diane Prather, 2007. All rights reserved.

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