The class book review: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, by Melissa Keil

15th April 2016 at 08:01
Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, Melissa Keil

Title: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
Author: Melissa Keil
Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Teacher review

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl tells the story of Alba, a 17-year-old girl living in a small and remote town in Australia. She’s an aspiring comic-book artist who, along with her alter ego Cinnamon Girl, is struggling to come to terms with the fact that school is over for good and it’s time for her and her friends to move on to the next chapter in their lives. Oh, and as if that wasn’t emotional enough, overnight YouTube sensation Original Ned has just declared her home town of Eden Valley the only place to avoid the impending apocalypse.

First of all, I should state that as a 30-something male I know that I am not the target audience for this novel. I found the dialogue unrealistic and clichéd at times and as a result didn’t feel a great connection with Alba or any of her friends. I also tend not to like novels where the ending is evident from the beginning.

That said, if I’d read this as a 14-year-old, it would have captured many of my worries and anxieties about the uncertainty of the future. I had a lot. Alba does, too. She’s not sure whether she wants to stay in Eden Valley or head out into the big, wide world. She’s worrying so much about it, in fact, that she fails to see why the best friend she’s had since she was a baby is acting so strangely around her.

There are many sweet and humorous moments throughout this novel and the characters that descend on the town left me reliving both my travelling and festival-going days. Special mention goes to Penny Farthing Man, although you’d better not talk about him in Alba’s presence.

At its core, this is a story about the transition between the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood, and I can definitely see the appeal to a teenage audience. I’ll be recommending it to my students.

David Gower is a teacher of media studies at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Pupil reviews

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl follows the character of Alba and her friends, who live in a tiny town called Eden Valley in Australia. Alba draws comic books, and throughout the book she is working on her comic book alter-ego Cinnamon Girl.

School has just finished and, while the rest of her friends want to escape their home town, Alba just wants to stay put. When a viral video that declares the end of the world also announces that Eden Valley is the only safe place to be, thousands of people descend on the town, and Alba feels like her world has turned upside-down.

 The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl is written in Alba’s first-person narrative. Her authorial voice is very strong throughout the book and a lot of Alba’s thoughts refer to Cinnamon Girl and drawing comics. For example, the first chapter starts with a description of her house, and how she would draw it. She also sometimes compares her life to a comic book, talking about how the best kinds of comics have frames that burst into each other, and colours that bleed between the lines.

Alba’s own comic creation – Cinnamon Girl – is present from the very start of the book, and is used to track the emotional journey of Alba throughout. As the story progresses, Alba’s drawings of Cinnamon Girl change, portraying her as angrier and more bad tempered, regardless of how Alba draws her. I think that this symbolism is very important and revealing for the character of Alba.

Overall, the book is very engrossing. The characters that Melissa Keil creates are very original and the reader gets to know each one very well. The world that they live in is very rich, and it feels like everything is seen and experienced through the eyes of Alba. In the book, Keil captures perfectly the uncertainties of the future, and the reader is drawn into Alba’s world.

Martha Williams, Year 9

Caption: end of the world imminent!

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl is a warm, good-feel book which tells the story of Alba, who is trying to cope with the potential end of the world, with her home town being the last place of resort. It's unique book which will make you have a warm, fuzzy feeling while you read. A perfect book for teens, which won’t let you put it down. Here is my overview:

  • It's a unique book
  • I couldn’t put it down
  • It's full of twists and turns
  • It is one girl’s story
  • I liked the first person
  • Highly recommend
  • The book is more for girls

Hannah Moore, Year 9

The story is set in a small town in Australia called Eden Valley. The narrative is told in the first person by Alba, who at 17 has just left school. She has her adult life to look forward to but for the moment is content with her life as a comic artist and her simple lifestyle.

Through her main comic-book character, Cinnamon Girl, Alba’s feelings about friends and her worries about the future are revealed. Alba’s contented lifestyle is under threat when a viral video declares the end of the world is nigh and the only safe place to go is Eden Valley.

The characterisation is strong, especially that of Alba. The main themes of approaching adulthood and the future of the world are handled well. The dialogue is both humorous in parts and authentic. It is a page-turner and should appeal to 12 years+.

Niamh Jenkins, Year 10

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