Monday, September 14, 2009

Printz Award winner: Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snooging: Confessions of Georgia Richardson

Bibliographic Data
Rennison, Louise. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson. Harper Collins Publishers: New York, 2000. ISBN 006028871X.

Plot Summary
Georgia's life is taken up by boys she doesn't like kissing, boys she wishes she could kiss, a half-breed wildcat who won't stop stalking her neighbor's pets, friends in and out of love, suspicious teachers and clueless parents. In between all of that, she manages to write in her journal for a whole school year.

Critical Analysis
The main character in this book, Georgia, records her thoughts, actions, and dreams in her journal. She fantasizes about boys like Robbie, the Sex God working at the greengrocers in town (48). She deals with an unsympathetic mother who doesn’t tell her that her nose isn’t big. Instead she advises Georgia how to hide the bigness with makeup (45)!

Her father leaves for New Zealand to look for work and Georgia’s not sure she even misses him: “Watching TV Mum said, “Do you miss your dad?” and I said, “Who?” (148). Meanwhile, she’s sure her mother is having an affair with the remodeler, Georgia is stuck too often taking care of her little sister, Libby, and Robbie hates her. Her best friend is having an on again/off again relationship with Robbie’s brother Tom, and Georgia is forced to listen to every detail. That’s what best friends are for after all, right?

She hates Robbie, she loves him, she hates him, she loves him.

She tries to shave her legs for the first time and ends up bleeding all over her mom’s nightgown. When she tries to wash it, it shrinks to the size of a doll’s nightgown.

We’re not given physical descriptions of the girls in Georgia’s life, but we are given detailed information about the boys’ appearances. Rosie’s boyfriend Sven is “about eight feet tall” (122). Robbie is “very tall with long, black hair and really intense, dark-blue eyes, and a big mouth.” (48) Tom has sort of crinkly hair and great shoulders.” (47). Mark, a boy from the neighborhood looks like Mick Jagger (94). At the age of 14, Georgia looks at the boys much closer than she looks at her girlfriends.

The story takes place in England. The introduction announces to the reader that Georgia lives in England, and she’s aware that some of the American readers may not understand all the words she uses, so there’ll be a glossary at the end of the book. Since British schools all expect their students to wear uniforms, school uniforms, or the dislike of same, play a minor role in the story line.

The theme of this story is growing up and learning to be happy with yourself. Georgia doesn’t really know what she wants, but she’s willing to try just about anything to find out. No boyfriend? Maybe she’s destined to be a lesbian. Big nose? Disguise it behind a new haircut (that her Mum vetoes). Parents don’t understand you? That’s because they’re stuck in the 80s. This is a story of the day-to-day life and thoughts of a typical 14 year old girl. What makes this book appealing to YA readers is learning that Georgia and other girls feel the same confusion, mistrust, and joy at growing up as they do.

Awards and Honors
  • American Booksellers Book Sense Book of the Year (ABBY) Award 2002 Finalist Children's Literature United States
  • Garden State Teen Book Award 2003 Winner Gr. 9-12 (Fict.) New Jersey
  • Michael L. Printz Award 2001 Honor Book United States
  • Smarties Book Prize 1999 Bronze Award Winner Ages 9-11 United Kingdom
  • Soaring Eagle Book Award 2002 2nd Runner-up Grades 7-12 Wyoming
  • Virginia Young Readers Program 2003 Winner High School Virginia

Review Excerpts
Michael Cart (Booklist, July 2000 (Vol. 96, No. 21))
Although performer and comedy writer Rennison clearly owes a large debt to Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary (1998), her Georgia is a wonderful character whose misadventures are not only hysterically funny but universally recognizable. This "fabbity, fab, fab" novel will leave readers cheering, "Long live the teen!"

Rebecca Joseph (Children's Literature)
In this diary- formatted novel, young Georgia details the ups and downs of her unique teenage English life. Complete with a helpful glossary, the novel comically covers a year in which Georgia's father moves to New Zealand (he wants the family to join him there), her cat Angus (of the title) launches an attack on the neighbor's poodle, and she falls in love with an older boy (leading to some snogging, that is, kissing for Georgia). As spunky Georgia describes her unusual exploits, she reveals the insecurity that plagues most teenagers.

Book Hook
  • For more adventures of Georgia Nicolson, read On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God: Further Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, also by Louise Rennison.
  • If you want to read other funny books about English girls in boarding schools, try one of the Calypso Chronicles books by Tyne O'Connell.

Online Connections
Louise Rennison's website

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