The Plain Janes

by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

Jane’s parents move her to the safety of a small town halfway across the country... read more

Jane’s parents move her to the safety of a small town halfway across the country after a terrorist attack hits Metro City. Jane is eager to establish a new identity at Buzz Aldrin High School in the small town where she now lives. She cuts her hair short and eschews the kids at the popular table. Instead she chooses to sit with the table of perennial losers, who all turn out to be named Jane, too. As she gets to know them, she learns that each one has a talent: one is theatrical, one is brainy, and one is athletic. And all of them are outsiders. Main Jane is determined to change things, not just for the Janes but for the entire bland town. She forms an avant-garde guerrilla art group called P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art in Neighborhoods), and she and the other Janes surreptitiously create art installations around the town under the cover of night. No one suspects the Plain Janes. But their art attacks become increasingly risky once the police and school principal make it their mission to catch the culprits. Cecil Castellucci’s first graphic novel is both funny and serious in its depiction of our post–9/11 world where conformity is too often equated with security. Much of the humor comes from Jim Rugg’s illustrations, which perfectly capture the sense of adolescent ennui and enthusiasm. Ultimately, the book’s message is about the transformative and healing power of art, and the role outsiders have always played in bringing that message to the masses. (Ages 13–16)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008

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