Saturday, September 19, 2015


By age 15 Jimmy Gownley had already written, illustrated, and self-published his first comic book. The Dumbest Idea Ever is the memoir and secret origin story of a real-life comic book artist who grew up in a small Pennsylvania town. It’s the tale of a lost championship game, chickenpox, pneumonia, friendships, first love, a sudden shift from straight-A student and star athlete to “the kid who used to be special,” and the “dumbest idea ever” that ultimately changed his life. 

Focusing on the author’s life between the ages of 13-15, the graphic novel captures the often difficult transition from middle to high school. The book is dedicated in part to Jimmy’s late friend Tony, who played a significant role in encouraging and inspiring him to write from personal experience. 

Jimmy Gownley’s heartwarming story is a welcome addition to the middle grade graphic novel memoir genre, lately popularized by Raina Telgemeier’s bestseller Smile. For another read alike, try Cece Bell’s El Deafo, which chronicles the author’s early to tween years after a childhood disease leaves her profoundly deaf. 

For grades 4 and up.

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