babyhippoface's Reviews > Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel

Ellie McDoodle by Ruth McNally Barshaw
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's review
Jan 04, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: kids-fiction, humor
Recommended for: 3rd-5th graders

This could be touted as a "Diary of a Wimpy Kid for Girls." And although it doesn't contain near the humor Wimpy Kid does, I predict this book will be quite popular in my library, simply for its style. It basically looks just like Greg Heffley's journal, but this one is about a girl, Ellie McDougal (Ellie McDoodle to her friends, who know she loves to draw).

When her parents have to leave town to attend a distant family funeral, Ellie and her little brother, Ben-Ben, are forced to go on a camping trip with her Aunt Mug (who is in a perpetual bad mood and spits when she talks), her booooring Uncle Ewing, and three annoying cousins. Her only salvation? A brand new journal, which she fills with drawings galore and a running narrative of the camping trip.

Like I said, this isn't as funny as Wimpy Kid (which I didn't really like because I thought Greg was completely self-centered and obnoxious, but kids think is hysterical), but I like Ellie, and that makes all the difference. She's bright, imaginative, and resourceful. Yes, she whines a lot in the journal, but who among us hasn't been there: thrust into a situation in which we don't want to be and from which we cannot escape, with people whom we cannot stand. That's one big bummer.

But Ellie still tries to have fun. Granted, she does it expecting the worst, but she still does it. She teaches her family members and fellow campers new games (Human Pretzel is really fun to play, by the way; it can be hard, but lots of laughs), sings songs, and catches frogs at the mucky pond.

When creepy cousin Eric (or Er-ick, as Ellie calls him) steals her journal and reads it, then passes it along to his mother, Ellie is overwhelmed with guilt for the insulting things it contains. She determines to try to make amends, and darned if things don't get better. Her horrid family isn't quite as horrid as she thought, apparently.

While they may not fall over laughing at Ellie McDoodle (as some parents have told me their children have done at Wimpy Kid), they'll like her enough to finish the book and ask if there's a sequel.

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