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Literature / Amelia's Notebook

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A series of realistic fiction books written by Marissa Moss and published by Simon and Schuster (who also did licensed books based on Full House, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Bob the Builder, Dora the Explorer, Clueless and SpongeBob SquarePants).

The series follows the everyday events in the life of Amelia, an ordinary girl living in the Pacific northwest. The series opened with Amelia learning how to adjust to moving to a new state. Later books center around other problems that most girls eventually have to deal with, such as crushes, making the jump to middle school, gossip, and babysitting.

Every book is told in an undated diary format, with just as many doodles in the margins and photographs and random objects taped inside as one would expect from a preteen girl. American Girl magazine also ran a column for her, for nearly a decade. Scholastic also published the whole Amelia's Notebook series due to a licensing agreement with Marissa Moss (hence having their logo stamped on a spine as their certification mark).

Not to be confused with Amelia Bedelia or Amelia "Mia" Thermopolis (from The Princess Diaries).

Tropes associated with Amelia's Notebook:

  • An Aesop: In "Oh Boy Amelia", Carly tells her classmate Clarisse not to worry if an activity she enjoys something that's masculine or if a boy enjoys something that's feminine, because those categories are arbitrary.
    There's no such thing as a boy thing or a girl thing. What you mean is it's not your thing.
  • All There in the Manual: It is mentioned in Amelia Tells All, a book of personality quizzes, that her mom's name is Patience, because according to Amelia, she is anything but.
  • Alpha Bitch: Maxine in Amelia's Book of Notes and Note Passing.
  • Animated Adaptation: The first book received an animated video titled Amelia's Moving Pictures, starring Tabitha St. Germain (who also voiced Karina Mishnev and other characters in various cartoons) in the title role. It seems possible that American Girl made this as the Pilot to a TV show that ultimately failed to find a network. However, this is also seen off the 2000 Scholastic Demo CD #1 (for older computers) in a file format known as ".mov" (the video file requires QuickTime for either Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS).
  • Art Evolution: Faces and anatomy looked much nicer as time went on. Compare the first book's illustration of Amelia, and her sixth-grade notebook. This becomes Fridge Brilliance when you notice that the books are supposed to be Amelia's diaries; it makes sense that her art would improve as she got older.
  • Asshole Victim: Cleo dumping salt in Mr. Lambaste's coffee would be a nasty thing to do to a teacher... that wasn't Mr. Lambaste. Since he's the resident Sadist Teacher, and Cleo says that he was awful even before the salt incident (and her claim is backed up by the fact that other all the other students hate him, too), it's hard not to side with Cleo, even if it does cause issues for Amelia. In fact, Mr. Lambaste's attitude is what led to Cleo deciding to prank him in the first place.
  • Author Avatar: The author has stated that Amelia is based on herself when she was a child.
  • Be Yourself: The main Aesop of The All-New Amelia. Amelia spends the entire book trying to befriend the new girl in school by trying to become "fancier", only to end up driving all of her old friends away as the new girl continues to ignore her.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: Amelia often does this in the first book of her series to keep Cleo, her older sister, away from her private notebook.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Cleo, Amelia's older sister. She also apparently has awful table manners, too.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Kayla in Amelia's Itchy-Twitchy, Lovey-Dovey Summer at Camp Mosquito. At the beginning, she's only mentioned as one of the girls in Amelia's cabin and the homesick, constantly crying kid. After that, she makes just a brief appearance and a mention later on, but at the end, she turns out to be the girl Luke chooses over Amelia and Carly at the camp dance.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Several girls are introduced as Amelia's cabin-mates in Amelia's Itchy-Twitchy, Lovey-Dovey Summer at Camp Mosquito at the start of the book, but only one of them ever shows up again later on.
  • Continuity Nod: The books can be read and understood in any order, but Amelia will sometimes reference events of previous books. For example, when discussing gossip, Amelia writes about certain secrets she knows about Cleo, including the "kissing her own step-cousin" thing that happened way back in the family reunion book.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Amelia.
  • Demoted to Extra
    • Leah. She's introduced as the first friend Amelia makes after moving away in the first notebook, but makes sporadic appearances after that when Carly becomes Amelia's best friend.
    • Nadia, Amelia's best friend before she moved, becomes a lot less prominent in later books. Noted by Amelia in-universe, who comments that, while they're still friends, they've drifted apart.
  • Disappeared Dad: Played straight at first, Amelia's dad never being even mentioned. Amelia then writes him a letter in Luv Amelia Luv Nadia, and they finally meet in Amelia's Family Ties. After that, he's mentioned pretty frequently.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Max towards Charisse. He has a crush on her that persists through several books, but all his attempts to impress her go nowhere.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Amelia's mom has virtually nothing nice to say about her father, especially given that he walked out on his kids after their messy divorce. However, when Amelia asks for his contact information, she does eventually agree to let her write to him, and later agrees to let the sisters visit him. She may still be angry at him, but she won't stop her daughters from knowing her father.
  • Girls with Moustaches: According to a list of teachers you should avoid that was included at the back of Amelia's 6th-Grade Notebook, Mrs. Kittredge would be an okay teacher if she would just shave off her incredibly distracting beard.
    "It's hard to concentrate when you're trying desperately to NOT look at her chin."
  • Hair Color Dissonance: Amelia's hair color varies between dark brown, light brown, and black.
  • Hippie Teacher
    • Mrs. Oates, Amelia's art teacher in middle school, prefers to go by "Star", which is her "inner artist name". She's also drawn with long, flowing hair and wearing patterned tunic-tops with flowing sleeves.
    • According to the book about rumors, Mr. Lambaste, of all people, used to be a hardcore hippie, down to living in a commune.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: According to Amelia, Cleo is a terrible singer. Amelia is forced to endure Cleo's singing during their road trip. In Amelia's Moving Pictures, we learn that Cleo's singing voice really is that horrible, and it doesn't help that Cleo has weird taste in music.
    Cleo: Oh baby, oh baby, oh marshmallow pie-ie-ie, oh baby, oh baby, spit in my eye-aye-aye...
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: In Dr. Amelia's Boredom Survival Guide, one of the 'cures' she suggests for boredom entails pretending to be an alien and trying to describe humans and their artifacts.
  • Imagine the Audience Naked: When Amelia tells Carly about Mr. Lambaste, she suggests that Amelia imagine him in his underwear. It does not work.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Hilary when Amelia tells her off at the end of Amelia Takes Command.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Cleo, at her core. She bullies and fights with Amelia a lot, but she cares where it counts. One of the earliest examples of this is when Amelia's school has a fire and there are a few days off school, Amelia is sitting around the house in a sort of sad/shocked stupor, and Cleo very patiently brings her cookies and a drink and gives her a hug. These moments get more and more frequent as Amelia and Cleo get older- by the time she's thirteen or fourteen, Amelia seeks out Cleo for advice when she and Carly and fighting over a boy, and Cleo happily gives it.
  • Kiddie Kid: In one of the books, set when Amelia was ostensibly around nine years old, she fantasizes about better places to take school field trips, such as a teddy bear hospital where she could visit some "poor, sick teddies". What nine-year-old thinks a teddy bear hospital is a real place?
  • Kissing Cousins: Cleo makes out with Justin, who, to be fair, is her step-cousin, and they didn't meet until they were teens. It's still seen as gross In-Universe, although Amelia and Justin's stepsister Tara find the whole thing hilarious, and the fact that the incident happens at a family reunion and the pair get caught by their parents just pushes the whole thing into Refuge in Audacity territory.
    Amelia: I don't think that's what Dad meant by a "family reunion."
  • Love Triangle: In Amelia's Itchy-Twitchy, Lovey-Dovey Summer at Camp Mosquito, Carly and Amelia both like Luke. Who does Luke choose? Kayla.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase: Amelia and Nadia always sign off their letters to each other with "yours till the [bad pun]." (e.g. "yours till the banana splits" and "yours till the bunny hops")
  • Meaningful Name: To "lambaste" someone means to harshly criticize them. Amelia's Sadist Teacher is named Mr. Lambaste.
  • Morality Pet: George brings out the best in everyone. Even when she's unsure about whether or not she can have her father in her life permanently, Amelia immediately takes to her baby half-brother, and Cleo similarly adores him. Quinten, to his credit, does seem to be making an effort to do better with George than he did with Cleo and Amelia, and Clara obviously loves her son. Amelia's affection for George also extends to other characters. While she intensely dislikes Clara, particularly following an incident where Clara read her notebook without her permission, she does agree to try and forgive her when Clara apologizes and admits she's still figuring this whole "mom" thing out. Amelia reasons that Clara can't be all bad if she's George's mom.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: In Amelia Hits the Road, Amelia sees multiple roadside billboards for a "Mysterious Place", and she begs her mother to stop there so they could take a break from driving. The Mysterious Place turns out to be a cheesy tourist trap, and its main attraction is an optical illusion where water appears to flow uphill. Cleo is the only one who doesn't feel ripped off.
  • Odd Friendship: Amelia sees Gigi and Cleo's friendship as this, as Gigi is beautiful and kind. Of course, Amelia's biased, since Cleo picks on her at home.
  • Only One Name: What's Amelia's last name? No one knows. This applies to most other characters, in fact.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • In an early book, even when she was still in full bully mode, Cleo goes out of her way to be nice to Amelia when the latter is shaken up by there having been a fire at her school. She's also the one who gave Amelia a new notebook for her birthday in the second book, on the condition that Amelia write something nice about her. Amelia obliges, and concedes that Cleo does a very nice job doing her nails and painting them to look pretty.
    • Basically the only nice thing Mr. Lambaste does for Amelia is when he actually takes the time to read Amelia's story and gives her extra credit on it, even after she blew up at him. She also never mentions him being nasty to her again after that, so it's possible he finally backed off. Amelia also sees his catching Hudson cheating in the school election as this In-Universe, even though he didn't do it to help Amelia and Carly — he did it because Hudson was breaking the rules. Amelia still appreciates it.
  • Practically Different Generations: George, Amelia and Cleo's half-brother, is about ten and thirteen years younger than them, respectively. Because of their parents' divorce and their father's subsequent absence from their lives, the girls didn't even know George existed until he was nearly two.
  • Princess Classic: Charisse, according to Amelia, apparently looks like one.
  • Running Gag:
    • Amelia often needs multiple tries to remember the spelling of "weird" (which doesn't follow the "I before E except after C" rule).
    • The back covers always have three or four real quotes from readers and reviewers, followed by a quote from Cleo, who is offended by how the book portrays her.
  • Sadist Teacher: Mr. Lambaste, Amelia's sixth-grade homeroom, English, and history teacher. When Cleo had him, she dumped salt in his coffee, and he mistakenly thought that Amelia was going to be just like her. Too bad it takes place in a world where There Are No School Counselors Or Therapists.
  • Satellite Character: Nadia is mostly defined by having been Amelia's best friend before Amelia moved away.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Luke. Outside of his role as the center of a Love Triangle with Amelia and Carly, he doesn't have much going for him other than being a Nice Guy and an artist.
  • School Newspaper Newshound: Carly is a good one.
  • Scrapbook Story: The stories are told through diary entries, stories, drawings, letters, notes, and random things Amelia finds and tapes into her notebook.
  • Sequel Hook: The last line of the first book.
    Amelia: I better tell Mom that's what I want for my birthday. A brand new notebook!
  • Spin-Off:
    • The Max Disaster series is the boy-targeted counterpart of the Amelia series. It centers around Amelia's classmate Max, who creates a comic called "Alien Eraser" and performs experiments around his house. Like Amelia, Max copes with divorced parents.
    • The Daphne's Diary of Daily Disasters series is about Amelia's unlucky cousin Daphne. This series is targeted at younger readers.
  • Struggling Single Mother: A downplayed example with Amelia's mother. Amelia's parents are divorced, and it's heavily implied that her household is lower-income, perhaps even in spite of her father's child support checks (or possibly because he doesn't send them to begin with). Amelia's packed lunches often include things like cold hot dog sandwiches, and she wears very bland-looking clothing. Could be unintentional on the author's part, since there are several indications that she draws from her own childhood experiences for the books, which can occasionally be outdated.
  • Take That!: In Vote 4 Amelia, Amelia mentions that her school received free TVs. As part of the deal, the school is required to broadcast a weekly news program; Amelia refers to it as "propaganda with lots of ads." This is a jab against Channel One News, an edutainment news program for schools that had commercial breaks. This sparked controversy over advertising to schoolchildren in exchange for free equipment. To drive the point home, it's accompanied by a drawing of a TV showing the number 1.
  • Teacher's Unfavorite Student: Mr. Lambaste has a reputation as a Sadist Teacher, but he particularly hates Amelia, insulting her in front of the entire class and cruelly rebuffing all her attempts to participate in class and be friendly to him. It turns out that he holds a grudge against her because her older sister, Cleo, pulled a prank on him two years earlier.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Cleo, while always having a bratty streak, is far nicer and more helpful in later books, and her relationship with Amelia gets much friendlier. Justified, as sibling relationships tend to cool down and be less acrimonious as the kids get older and mature, so it makes sense that she'd pick on Amelia less often.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Amelia finally tells Mr. Lambaste off, she manages not to scream at him — in fact, she never so much as raises her voice. Also, in "Amelia Takes Command" during a Space Camp simulation, when everyone else begins to freak out, Amelia takes charge and keeps her cool, despite being irritated with her campmates.
  • The Unfavorite: Cleo in the Amelia-Mom-Cleo family, as Amelia drives Mom less crazy. However, the tables are turned in the Clara-Dad-Amelia-Cleo-George family, where Amelia, while certainly loved by her father, goes unnoticed.
  • Unreliable Narrator: There is some evidence that suggests that Amelia is not above exaggerating things, given that we only see her life through her private notebooks. One such example is whenever Cleo's bedroom cleanliness or her table manners are brought up. It is honestly difficult to believe that Cleo would have boyfriends or even friends with table manners that bad. They can't be that bad in real life.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Inverted, because it's Amelia who comes to visit rather than her dad. An entire book, Amelia's Family Ties, centers around Amelia getting a letter from her dad, who offers to let her come visit him in Chicago for a few days so they can catch up. There's apparently still some tension between her parents, since her mom wasn't all that thrilled when the letter came in the mail.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Amelia's Book of Notes and Note Passing is this to Othello. Carly is Othello, Maxine is Iago, and Amelia is Desdemona. Amelia even lampshades it when she begins to read the play in English class:
    "For a play written centuries ago, it's beginning to sound eerily like my life."