Author: Megan McDonald
Illustrated by: Peter H. Reynolds
Year published: 2000
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Number of pages: 176
Is this book part of a series? Book #1 in Judy Moody series
Recommended age: 6-9
Child Rating: ★★★★½
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★☆
Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
Summary (from Amazon): To start, Judy Moody doesn’t have high hopes for third grade. Her new desk won’t have an armadillo sticker with her name on it. Her new classroom will not have a porcupine named Roger. And with her luck, she’ll get stuck sitting in the first row, where Mr. Todd will notice every time she tries to pass a note to her best friend, Rocky. An aspiring doctor, Judy does have a little brother who comes in handy for practicing medicine, a cool new pet, and a huge Band-Aid collection.
Judy also has an abundance of individuality and attitude, and when Mr. Todd assigns a very special class project, she really gets a chance to express herself! Megan McDonald’s spirited text and Peter Reynolds’ wry illustrations combine in a feisty, funny first chapter book for every kid who has ever felt a little out of sorts.
What it’s about: This story is about a girl named Judy Moody. She has a little brother named Stink and her best friend is a boy called Rocky. Judy is not happy about starting Grade 3 and doesn’t want to get out of bed for the first day. When she gets to school, she finds out she has to do a special “Me Collage” which is all stuff about her. Judy wants to be a doctor when she grows up and gets a Hedda-Get-Betta doll to practice on. She has a pet cat named Mouse and she buys a weird venus fly-trap that she names Jaws as another pet. She brings her venus fly-trap to school and uses it as part of her “Me Collage” for her favorite pet. Her brother accidently spills juice on her finished Me Collage but Judy outlines the mess in black so that it looks like it was supposed to be there. She is very proud of her collage and the other kids thought it was great.
What I liked and disliked about it: I think Judy Moody is funny and I would be friends with her in real life. We have some things that are the same; like, we’re both in Grade 3, we both have little brothers, and we both have a pet cat. There are some really funny parts in this book. In a spelling test, Judy has to find five words out of GINO’S EXTRA CHEESE PIZZA, she finds the words tree, Texas, and taxi, but instead she writes down 1) no, 2) no, 3) no, 4) no, and 5) no. When her teacher asks her to share her words she says “no, no, no, no, no”. I found this really funny. I like the part where they find a “moon rock” and smash it to make “moon dust”. Her brother Stink then sells the moon dust for 50 cents a bag. I like this club called the T.P. Club which stands for Toad Pee Club because Judy and her friend found a toad and it peed on them so they started a Toad Pee Club – but I don’t really want to join that club. I like her brother Stink’s crazy costume when he goes to see the President of the United States. When he gets back, Judy and her friend had stuck a fake plastic hand out of the toilet and when her brother goes to the bathroom he gets scared and yells:
“Hey, Dad! Mom! There’s somebody in the toilet!”
I can’t think of anything I don’t like about it.
My bottom line: I really liked this book and I would recommend it to my friends who are girls. Boys my age might also like it because Judy’s friends are two boys, Rocky and Frank. I would read the next Judy Moody books.
What it’s about: This book is the first in the Judy Moody series. It is very much an introduction to the title character, Judy. The story centres around Judy having to do a “Me Collage” as a special project at the beginning of Grade 3. We discover that Judy wants to be a doctor when she grows up, has a Band-Aid collection, has a venus fly-trap as a pet, and is a member of a secret club. Aside from the Me Collage, the reader discovers that despite Judy’s bad moods, she is a spirited girl who develops compassion and loyalty toward the key people in her life. The illustrations, by Peter Reynolds, are an added bonus to a cleverly written book and provide an appropriate transition to chapter books.
What I liked and disliked about it: At first, I was a bit taken aback by Judy’s sassiness toward her teacher. That kind of back talk would not be tolerated in our house! Then, she’s just downright mean to a little boy in her class, Frank. Fortunately, Judy’s character develops in a positive direction throughout the rest of the book; so, theoretically a young reader would see that once Judy loses her negative attitude, she befriends someone new, fully enjoys Grade 3, and really just becomes a better human.
One of the things I particularly appreciated about this book is that Judy is portrayed (in the end) in such a way that she could be a good role model for tween girls. For example, Judy aspires to become a doctor and her role model was Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in the United States. She collects atypical items such as dead moths, scabs (ok, a bit gross!), body parts (from dolls), and Band-Aids and isn’t afraid of holding toads! She won me over with the problem-solving she did after her brother dumped juice on her Me Collage the day she was to present it to the class.
In the end, I really liked Judy! In fact, I felt that Judy was a rather realistic representation of 8/9 year-old girls. Yes, they are moody. Yes, they can be sassy. Yes, they would rather get soaking wet than use a “baby” umbrella. Yes, they can be mean to their little brothers/sisters. Yes, when they are not busy tormenting their younger siblings, they can be kind and compassionate. Yes, they are smart, imaginative, and groovy.
IS IT JUST ME? Judy’s parents go to Washington with Stink and leave Judy with Rocky presumably under his parents’ supervision. Yet, Judy and Rocky sneak back into Judy’s house to pull the gag on Stink – – literally waiting for him to come home so they can guide him to the bathroom. The parents don’t seem surprised or concerned that the two kids are in the house unsupervised. Ok, so two 8/9 year olds are in a house alone unsupervised – – does anyone else have a problem with this? Just asking…
Oh, and while Clementine gets in trouble calling her brother vegetable names, apparently Judy has the go-ahead from her parents to call her little brother Stink! Really?! Derogatory nicknames are ok?! Weren’t there other nicknames available?
My bottom line: While Judy is not exactly as charming as Clementine, I still did like her overall. The author cleverly uses the first book in the series to introduce us to Judy through the Me Collage project. Judy has moods – so do most girls that age! I feel she does redeem herself by the end of the book and therefore I would recommend this book to girls up to 9 years old. The book has many illustrations which are excellent and the text is not particularly dense therefore it probably would not be very challenging to read for older tweens. I think boys in the same age range may like this book as Judy is not a typical girlie-girl and her friends in the book are boys. I reserve the right to change my rating if I read the next books in the series and find Judy’s character deteriorating.
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***Kindle e-book version available through Amazon.com***