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Judy Moody Was In a Mood is the first in a 14-book series for kids ages 8-12. This book introduces the series’ protagonist, Judy Moody, a third-grader with a strong imagination and a lot of attitude.
Author Megan McDonald uses a series of everyday events to develop Judy’s character and describe her personality. During the 160 pages of this book, Judy makes new friends, gains new skills, and adjusts to being a third-grader with a new teacher and classroom.
Children will enjoy reading about Judy’s crazy exploits and hearing her thoughts as she experiences the challenges of everyday life. Parents and teachers will appreciate her growing emotional maturity.
However, this book series presents some challenges to parents who are working hard to maintain peace at home. For several reasons, this series works better as a teaching tool than a source of funny entertainment.
Summary of Judy Moody Was In a Mood
The first book of this series is divided into 12 chapters. The story starts with Judy waking up for her first day of the third grade. She makes it to class, but she’s determined not to enjoy herself because she misses second grade.
However, her teacher is wonderful, and she quickly begins to adjust to her new class. Readers are introduced to her brother, whom she calls Stink, her best friend Rocky, and another classmate named Frank.
As part of a school assignment, Rocky and Judy form a secret club called the Toad Pee Club. You can only join the club if a toad pees on your hand. Over the course of the story, Stink and finally Frank are also inducted into the club.
Judy has a series of adventures over the course of these twelve chapters, including going to Frank’s all-boy birthday party, buying a Venus Flytrap to take to show-and-tell, and pranking her brother with a rubber hand.
The story culminates with Judy preparing to present a “Me” collage to her class – a poster board covered with items that answer questions like, “Where does Judy Moody live?” Although Stink spills juice on her work, Judy turns the stain into her home state of Virginia and presents with confidence. She is learning to control her reaction to situations that are out of her control.
Positive Aspects for Kids
Twice in the story, readers see Judy change her mind. As she gains new information, she learns to reconsider her initial feelings and judgments and respond to her surroundings with more maturity.
The first example is tied to the title of the book: Judy’s mood. As she prepares to enter the third grade, Judy is not happy. She’s uncomfortable with the change and expresses her feelings by acting contrary toward others – including her parents, her brother, her teacher, and her classmates.
Judy’s friends recognize that she’s adjusting and give her space. After a short time, Judy changes her attitude and realizes that the third grade isn’t that bad. She allows herself to enjoy her new situation instead of constantly comparing it with the second grade.
Another moment of growth has to do with Judy’s friend Frank. Initially, Judy is irritated by Frank’s friendliness and doesn’t want to go to his birthday party. However, after she spends time with him, Judy realizes that they have a lot in common and she enjoys being Frank’s friend.
Parents can use these moments to talk to their kids about attitude and how they should treat others. Kids have to be taught that it’s not okay to take their emotions out on others. Cheerfulness is a choice, and you shouldn’t pre-judge a friend before you get to know them.
Negative Aspects for Kids
Although Judy grows in several positive ways in this story, there are several negative character traits that are never addressed. These negative behaviors are why some readers find Judy disrespectful instead of funny.
The most glaring negative behavior is the terrible way Judy treats her little brother. From the very beginning of the book, Judy makes it clear that her brother is an annoyance in her life. He’s called Stink throughout the book, and at one point, Judy states that her brother is “a piece of dirt.”
She certainly treats her brother like dirt, and her parents do very little to change the situation. Over the course of the book, Judy ridicules and pulls unkind pranks on her brother, often laughing at his response with her friends.
When he gets to have a fun experience she misses out on, she plans a prank that makes him look stupid so that she’ll feel better. Then, she incorporates the prank into her school project as “THE FUNNIEST THING EVER” so that her whole class can admire how clever she is and laugh at him.
Judy also responds poorly to adults when she is feeling off, often responding with “ROAR” instead of words that respectfully communicate how she feels. While some readers may find this hilarious, most parents would not enjoy having their children communicate this way.
Parents can use these parts of the story to discuss how siblings should be treated at their house. Is it okay to make fun of each other? Is something funny if both people can’t enjoy the joke? If children think these behaviors are funny and begin to mimic them, parents may have to retrogressively work to keep peace in their home.
Judy Moody for Your Family
While Judy Moody is a creative and funny child, she also models behavior you probably don’t want to see in your home. Whether or not your kids read the Judy Moody series is up to you. Some children may be able to enjoy the series without being influenced by her character.
However, young children are well-known for mimicking the behavior of people they look up to as clever, funny, or one-of-a-kind. Because Judy Moody behaves poorly on some important issues like how to treat your siblings, most parents will want to read this series with their children as a learning experience rather than giving the books to their kids for pure entertainment.
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