Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Knit Snit: Judy Moody: Mood Martian by Megan McDonald

She, Judy Moody was in a mood. A mad-face mood. All because school pictures had come home that day.

If Stink came into her room, he would ask to see her school picture. He would see that she looked like Sasquatch. With bird's-nest hair in hr face and in her eyes.

Mom and Dad were going to freak. "Just once we'd like to have a nice school picture of our girl," Dad had just said this morning. "Maybe this will be the year," Mom had said.

But third grade was no different.

Before she could even get home with her pictures, they get her in trouble in class. Rocky grabs the Sasquatch photos, giggles, and passes them around the class, and when Judy loses her temper and chases after them, Mr. Todd sends her to Antarctica, the solitary seat in the back of the room where he exiles students when he loses patience with them. Suddenly Judy Moody realizes that it is high time that she change her modus operandi.

Judy tries. The next morning is Backwards Day at her school, but instead of inside out, mismatched clothes and lop-sided hair, Judy works on an actual hairdo instead of her usual hair don't. She brushes her hair and smoothes it into an actual style like her frenemy, Jessica Finch, and spends some time picking out a spiffy outfit and actual matching shoe AND socks. She even nail polishes her mood ring happy purple. Judy is pleased: she is the absolute opposite of her usual ratty tee-shirt self. Perfect.

"Backward looks good on you!" said Mr. Todd.

But her friends pronounce her new persona just plain weird. Moody the Martian, they agree.

Being well-turned-out, raising her hand every time before she answers in class, keeping her room clean, smiling at Jessica Finch and being nice to Stink is not easy, but Judy double-dares herself to be a different person for an entire week. She even does measurement homework with Jessica, copies her ponytail and pink couture, and even wears cupcake-scented lip gloss.

But the strain of sticking to her regime is almost too much for Judy. The only thing that relieves her stress from smiling and agreeing with everyone is solo-finger-knitting in her comfortably untidy closet.

She, Judy Moody, was in a mood. A finger-knitting, don't-think-about school-pictures, need-to-be-alone mood. As in by-herself. Over. Under. Over, Under. Back. Loop-de-loop-de-loop. Her fingers flew. She, Judy Moody, was the fastest finger knitter in Frog Neck Lake, Virginia.

Judy sticks to her New Judy Resolution, but her anxiety builds, resulting in obsessive loops of yarn chains all over the house. When she runs out of yarn, she even stoops to unraveling the sweater Grandma handknit for her. Mom is sick of watching television through coils of knitting, Dad trips all over it, and Stink pronounces her a knit-wit. Judy stifles her anger, determined to stick to her mantra:

"When life gives you sour balls, make SweetTARTS!"

And Judy's creativity come through, in a dynamite yarn bomb measurement unit project, in Megan McDonald's latest, Judy Moody, Mood Martian (Book #12) (Candlewick Press, 2014). It's more Moody magic for McDonald and her illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds, in their twelfth collaboration, as Judy's new mood impresses her teacher, principal and even her nemesis Jessica Finch.

"Only Judy Moody!" she nodded.

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