cover image The Dumbest Idea Ever!

The Dumbest Idea Ever!

Jimmy Gownley. Scholastic/Graphix, $24.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-545-45347-9

Like the superheroes he’s so fond of, cartoonist Gownley’s own “origin story” has its share of tragedy and triumph, though his doesn’t involve any dead relatives. As a teenager in a Pennsylvania small town, Gownley excelled at school and basketball (less so, at least initially, with getting girls to like him), but his true passion was drawing. His mantra-like refrain, “I still have my desk... some pencils... some paper,” centered the budding cartoonist, who wrote, drew, and self-published his own comic book at age 15, a task he found both trying and rewarding. It takes a few years and a couple dashed hopes, but eventually Gownley realizes that drawing inspiration from his own life into his comics is his life’s calling (and he learns not to neglect his personal relationships in the process). As in his Amelia Rules! series, Gownley plays it pretty straight visually, relying on an accessible, Peanuts-influenced style accompanied by effective hand lettering. It’s a deeply personal and genuine work of autobiography, and an open letter of assurance to aspiring artists everywhere. Ages 10–12. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary Agency. (Mar.)■