To recap, the series features the adventures of young Amelia McBride, following her move with her mother to a new town after her parents divorced. In previous books, we've seen her get to know her somewhat nerdish and often super-hero obsessed friends, do battle with a rival ninja gang from across town, find out about her family (including her Aunt Tanner) and generally struggle through the fourth grade. In this new book, she's now in the fifth grade, and she and her friends are getting more concerned with their social standing, trying to fit in and be popular, or at least, as the title suggests, not be unpopular. It's an uphill battle, of course.
As you can read on the official site, Gownley takes the inspiration for AMELIA RULES from classic comic strips, in particular Charles Schulz' PEANUTS (the more direct visual cues from Schulz have subsided over time, but still pop up every now and then). It's also, he says, not about childhood, but about growing up, so the characters do tend to grow and change.
It's always been a very charming series, with Gownley never being a slave to any conventions and willing to do anything for the joke, starting with breaking the fourth wall, which is a regular feature of the book with Amelia's narration, and moving on from there. In the case of this particular book, that includes a sight gag referencing a classic Wile E. Coyote moment, an extended aside where Amelia talks to Dracula,
TRUE THINGS (ADULTS DON'T WANT KIDS TO KNOW), scheduled for October 2010, so no two year gap before the next big chunk of story.