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Amelia’s Journal

Author John Cech
Air Date 6/30/2000

Amelia’s Notebooks Transcript

There’s a wonderful series of books for girls ages 8 and up by Marissa Moss, about a kid named Amelia who keeps one of those black and white marbled notebooks. She records all the stuff that makes up a young person’s life–those hundreds of little comments and musings about the ordinary and the unusual things that preoccupy older children in those few grace years before the upheavals of adolescence. It’s that time when they are still full of open curiosity and exuberance, a time when they still have their own voices and haven’t become, to use Mary Pipher’s term, Ophelias–girls who pretend not to be bright, not to be aware, not to have aspirations, so as not to draw the ire of the boys they want to impress–girls who have, in essence, become silent.

Amelia could hardly be accused of that. Thank goodness. There are now 9 books in the series, beginning with Amelia’s Notebook from 1995 and coming up to the latest, Amelia’s Family Ties, which just appeared this February. And each of these journals proclaims the presence of their author with sureness and imagination. In fact, there’s a page in 1999’s The All-New Amelia in which Amelia describes the voices of some of the key people in her life–her friends, her teacher, her mom (who has a voice, she writes, “like dark chocolate”) and Cleo, her jelly-roll-nosed older sister (whose voice is “like a sponge scrubbing a pot”)–and she accompanies her descriptions with her kid-like drawings of these people, and of their mouths and how they form sounds. This digression all began with her and her friend Carly’s debate about how Amelia pronounced certain words, and it led to Amelia’s realization that she “need[s] a good voice.”

Amelia’s life doesn’t stand still, and there are always layers and layers of things that get uncovered as each of the notebooks unfolds. Amelia Hits the Road, her account of her family’s vacation, is also about a lot more–her tensions with her sister, her friendship with Nadia, the natural world that she discovers in the Southwest–all of which are revealed through the collages of writing, drawings, postcards, stickers that Miss Moss uses to illustrate the book and to give Amelia her own vibrant voice on its pages. These books are intelligent, spirited, complex, funny; they’re sure to start the Amelias in your family on their own journals and they”ll probably even nudge you to get back to yours!

Posted in Literature