Monday, November 23, 2009

The Plain Janes. By Cecil Castellucci.

Title: The Plain Janes
Author: Cecil Castellucci
Illustrator: Jim Rugg
Publisher: Minx
Date: May 2, 2007
ISBN: 1401211151


Critical Analysis:

This is a story about a girl named Jane who survived a terrorist bombing outside a cafĂ© in the city in which her parents decided to move to suburbia in order to get away from such dangers. Jane who is not happy with her recent move tries her best to make do. She becomes friends with three girls named Jane, Jayne and Polly Jane who she feels are just like her…outsiders. Jane recruits her friends to move about at night expressing art under the code name of P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art in Neighborhoods) throughout the town, which is a form of therapy for her. While their pranks are harmless fun, law enforcement does not agree!

Cecil Castellucci did a wonderful job with the plot to keep the reader engaged! The format of the text was easy to follow and the illustrations were full of detail. The reader will connect with the characters and the setting of the story which takes place in a suburban school and neighborhood. Jesse Karp of Booklist wrote, “The book has its share of stereotypes--the science geek, the psychotically overprotective mother, the irrepressible gay teen--but this is thought-provoking stuff. The art, inspired by Dan Clowes' work, is absolutely engaging” ((Booklist, Mar. 15, 2007 (Vol. 103, No. 14)).

Review Excerpts:

Jesse Karp (Booklist, Mar. 15, 2007 (Vol. 103, No. 14)):

"For the first book in a new series aimed at teenage girls, DC comics recruited novelist Castellucci (Boy Proof, 2004, and The Queen of Cool, 2005) to write this story about outsiders who come together, calling up themes from the author's popular YA novels. Relocated to suburbia after a brush with disaster in the big city (and fueled by an urge not to be terrified of the world as a result), Jane rallies a small group of outcasts into a team of 'art terrorists,' shaking the town from its conservative complacency by putting bubbles in the city fountain and wrapping objects on the street as Christmas packages. Their activities end up rallying the local teenagers to their cause and working the adults into a dither. The book has its share of stereotypes--the science geek, the psychotically overprotective mother, the irrepressible gay teen--but this is thought-provoking stuff. The art, inspired by Dan Clowes' work, is absolutely engaging. Packaged like manga, this is a fresh, exciting use of the graphic-novel format. Category: Books for Older Readers--Fiction. 2007, DC Comics/Minx, $9.99. Starred Review" Retrieved from the Children's Literature Database (accessed on November 22, 2009).

Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Fall 2007):

"In Boy Proof, Jane was injured in a terrorist attack. Now her family's moved to suburbia, where Jane forms P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods) and plans 'art attacks' while continuing correspondence with a comatose man. The graphic novel's core is Jane's struggle to see the world's beauty. Rugg's warm gray-scale scenes convey the drama, impact, and joy of unfettered expression. Category: Older Fiction. 2007, DC/Minx, 152pp, 9.99. Ages 12 to 14. Rating: 1: Outstanding, noteworthy in style, content, and/or illustration" Retrieved from the Children's Literature Database (accessed on November 22, 2009).

Connections:

I was able to find a good group of discussion questions and classroom activities that would be great to use with this book. You can access this information by clicking on: http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:DvChSyqCXcsJ:www.misscecil.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/theplainjanes.doc+The+Plain+Janes+discussion+questions&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a (accessed November 22, 2009).

Other books that may be of interest:

Boy Proof. By Cecil Castellucci. Publisher: Candlewick Press. Date: 2005. ISBN: 0763623334.

ALT ED. By Catherine Atkins. Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons. Date: 2003. ISBN: 0399238549.

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