Saturday, November 26, 2011
Module 7: Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls
Allie Finkle has a problem. She has never been on a field trip! Sure, her class has gone on field trips before, but her rat of a former best friend Mary Kay cheated her out of going on the last one by "losing" her permission slip, and the field trip before that, she was sick! It should be a rule that best friends don't cheat other best friends out of field trips. What's more, Allie has never ridden the bus. So when it's announced that her class is going to an old-timey schoolhouse set up like olden pioneer times, Allie knows she has to make it, because that's a field trip and a bus ride! But just when things seem to be going Allie's way in life, her teacher makes the announcement that everyone has to have a buddy on the field trip...and Allie's buddy is none other than her ex-best friend Mary Kay. Ugh! There should be a rule that assigned buddies shouldn't be sworn enemies.
I listened to the audiobook version of Meg Cabot's Blast from the Past (Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls, Book 6), and I have to admit that at first, I found the audiobook to be a little insufferable. Allie -- or the narrator herself -- is a little on the overly exaggerated side of precocious. However, Allie's "rules" (that is, a journal she keeps of various rules for life that she makes up) are, after a while, endearing. Cabot definitely uses a large amount of repetition throughout the book, which on one hand may ground the reader, but after a while they become a bit annoying. The constant reminding of the reader that Mary Kay is Allie's former best friend who ruined everything is...constant. While it may be a good rule (hah!) to remind younger readers of basic plot points from time to time, every chapter's refresher course for the previous few chapters was a little tiresome. Still, I slowly became a little charmed by Allie, and in the end when she discovers that George Washington also kept a book of rules for life as a young person, I was glad to see the character have some fuel for when she got teased by classmates about her rulebook. Allie is cheeky and, once the reader gets over her penchant for repetition, likable. The situations she faced in Blast from the Past seemed relatable.
"Rule No. 1: Life is not fair.
At least if you live inside a Meg Cabot novel it isn't.And sometimes it's SO not fair, you can't BELIEVE how unfair it is. AT ALL.
Meg Cabot, chronic capitalizer and reigning grande dame of teenage chick lit, has too many best-selling series to keep track of -- there's the reluctant princess in the ''Princess Diaries'' books, the reluctant communicator with the dead in ''The Mediator,'' the reluctant national hero in ''All-American Girl,'' and so on (at last count Cabot, at age 41, has 54 books out, a handful of them geared for grown-up girls). As far-ranging as her concepts may be, they all introduce some life-changing event then circle back to the supreme ''I want my normal life back'' injustice of it all.
Cabot's books are quick-paced romps that take one night to read and, apparently, not much longer to write. In addition to regularly updating her blog with detailed posts, she has said in interviews that she writes five to 10 pages a day, turning out roughly a book a month.
More unbelievable, though, is that the work holds up. While legions of Meg Cabot imitators get waylaid by brand-name this and ''Oh my God'' that, Cabot's voice remains fresh. She favors the spill-the-beans-as-you-go style common to teenage fiction, but her material has a spirited fizz that's lacking in many so-called young adult comedies" (Mechling, 2008, p. 17).
Praise for more of Allie Finkle:
"Allie's first-person voice is completely believable with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek wit. Despite the now-overdone rules concept, readers will eagerly await Allie's next installment in her new home, school and neighborhood" (Moving Day, 2008, p. 38).
Allie Finkle is a great companion piece to other diary/rule-style books, and she would be a good pick for a back-to-school type display. Additionally, she could be included in book talks dealing with literature on moving, along with books that are journal-type stories.
Mechling, L. (2008). Allie Finkle, Age 9. New York Times Book Review, 17.
MOVING DAY: Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls, Book 1. (2008). Kirkus Reviews, 76(1), 38.