Ellie McDoodle — New Kid in School
Ellie McDoodle — New Kid in School was written and illustrated by Ruth McNally Barshaw and published in 2008 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books. It is Ruth’s second Ellie book for middle grade readers. It reads like a graphic novel slash girl’s sketchbook. I highly recommend this book as a fun and uplifting read.
Not only is Ruth Barshaw a talented children’s book author but she is “the Bomb!” when it comes to her fans! My ten-year-old is a ginormous Ellie fan and when I emailed Ruth to let her know that her Learn to Draw class at the Orion Township Library was full and hence, Sarah would have to see her at another event sometime in the unbearable future to a ten-year-old — well, Sarah received a wonderful call from a wonderful librarian named Kris and Ruth had opened her class to Sarah and all the kids on the waiting list.
To top it off, Ruth is warm, open, extremely funny and a hit with the kids.
She takes her time when autographing books, drawing the children a special picture and writing encouraging messages to them. Not to mention, she is pretty gosh darn good at teaching art.
And these characteristics of Ruth come clearly through her work in the Ellie McDoodle books. In her new book, Ellie and her family are moving and Ellie is both characteristically funny and also poignantly truthful about her feels of loss. Sometimes, it is the details of our everyday lives that we love the most — the little things about our home and friends and school.
Ellie right away finds the library in her new town and finds refuge and new friends there. Reminding me of the hours I spent at the library when I was a child. I simply love libraries. All the books — I could hang out there ad nauseum. At my local library, the librarians are my friends.
Ellie then solves her own bedroom problem in a hard-working and mature way, meets a boy in her class and then shows up to school on the first day in pants when all the girls are in dresses/skirts. The next day, Ellie wears a dress, but oh no!
Ellie plays games with the other kids in the neighborhood as we used to in our neighborhood. She has a supposedly horrible art teacher who appears to know nothing about art (but redeems herself later in the book) and she lives in a family that likes to play pranks on each other. Ruth brought Mrs. Claus to her Learn to Draw class and yes, she is horrifying.
But Ellie’s big accomplishment is the organization of her own nonviolent protest against the long lunch lines at her new school. She regains her self-confidence and cements her budding friendships.
The book also contains directions for playing the neighborhood games, for making things (origami piano), and how to draw and keep a sketchbook. There is also an Interview with the Author.
“Artists draw on the world for inspiration … and to inspire.” Ellie McDoodle