I Funny : A Middle School Story
by Patterson, James; Grabenstein, Chris; Park, Laura (ILT)

Resolving to become the world's greatest stand-up comedian despite less-than-funny challenges in his life, wheelchair-bound middle school student Jamie Grimm endures bullying from his mean-spirited cousin and hopes he will be fairly judged when he entersa local comedy contest.

James Patterson has had more New York Times bestsellers than any other writer, ever, according to Guinness World Records. Since his first novel won the Edgar Award in 1977 James Patterson's books have sold more than 300 million copies. He is the author of the Alex Cross novels, the most popular detective series of the past twenty-five years, including Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

Built around the notion of a middle-grade stand-up comedian who delivers jokes sitting down because he is confined to a wheelchair, this tale is written as an extended monologue in which Jamie Grimm (get it?) introduces loyal school friends, his mostly loving adoptive family, and Stevie-his new brother, who is also a vicious bully both online and in person-then proceeds to savage them all indiscriminately from a talent-contest stage. Playing readers' heartstrings like a banjo, Patterson and Grabenstein also chuck in two girlfriends and a first kiss, hints of a family tragedy strung out until near the end, an uplifting spontaneous routine delivered to the patients of a children's rehab center, and, both in the narrative and in the line drawings on almost every page, dozens of gags both classic (Do zombies eat doughnuts with their fingers? No. They usually eat their fingers separately) and not so much (When kids in Grossville say, 'Mommy, can I lick the bowl?' their mothers say, 'Be quiet, dear, and just flush'). In all, a brimming bucket of ba-da-bing! that hardly needs a celebrity author to crank up the audience numbers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Patterson's full-court press to capture the attention of every market in the reading public continues-and 25 million books sold for young readers proves it's working. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Middle school student Jamie is an aspiring comic. Referring to the fact that he requires a wheelchair, Jamie challenges readers: "So, can you deal with this? Some people can. Some can't." Frequently quoting his favorite comedians, Jamie reflects on life, using his forthright observations to hone his own comedic skills. Jamie relies on his quick wit and sometimes-audacious jokes to deflect inquiries about his circumstances. Recently adopted by his aunt, Jamie's new family includes Stevie, a bully whose callous cruelties often take advantage of Jamie's physical condition. Seeking refuge at his Uncle Frankie's diner, Jamie regales the customers with his humor. Uncle Frankie's suggestion that Jamie enter a local comedy competition tests Jamie's determination to become a comedian. Patterson and Grabenstein balance Jamie's humor with a poignant storyline. Through Jamie's evolving relationship with the intriguing Suzie, aka Cool Girl, readers learn about his devastating loss and recovery from a tragic event. Park's humorous spot illustrations complement the text. The affecting ending, which reveals a more vulnerable Jamie behind the guise of his humor, celebrates Jamie's resilient spirit. (Fiction. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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