Middle school readers won't pick up I Funny because of James Patterson's name on the front of it. I picked it up because it said, "and Chris Grabenstein", who is one of my favorite authors. The targeted audience, though, might pick it up because of the kid with the fake mustache, big nose, and glasses. Cartoonist and illustrator Laura Park is responsible for all the numerous illustrations in the book. The three produced a fun book, with a message about humor, bullies, and hope.
Jamie Grimm has one joke after another. He tells him to his two best friends. He tells them at his Uncle Frankie's diner and the customers love them. And, he tries them on the school bully, Stevie Kosgrov, They don't work on Stevie, who is also Jamie's cousin. Unfortunately, Jamie also lives with the Kosgrovs following the accident that left him in a wheelchair. But, Jamie doesn't want to talk about that. He wants to tell jokes and make people laugh.
That's how he ended up competing in the local competition for the Planet's Funniest Kid Comic Contest. His uncle suggested he try out. But, after Jamie forgot the end of his speech about Mt. Everest in school, he was afraid he'd never remember the punchlines of his jokes. It takes courage to get up in front of a room of strangers, hoping they'll ignore the wheelchair and just listen to the jokes. And, it takes a lot to remember the punch lines in front of that room of strangers.
Patterson, Grabenstein and Park have joined together for a joke-filled story about a middle school boy suffering from so many of the pains of growing up. There are subtle messages here for readers, but they're provided with humor - messages of hope, friendship, anti-bullying, and overcoming obstacles. It's a fun book for the target audience, filled with terrific jokes and cartoons. But, most important, middle school readers should find I Funny to be funny.
I Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. Little, Brown & Company. 2012. ISBN 9780316206938 (hardcover), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The author, Chris Grabenstein, sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
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