Saturday, December 8, 2012

I Funny

I Funny: A Middle School Story
by James Patterson
and Chris Grabenstein

Publication Date: December 10, 2012

Ages 8-12

ARC copy used for review.

Personal Ranking 3.5 out of 5

"Have you ever done something extremely stupid
like, oh, I don't know,
try to make a room filled with total
strangers laugh until their sides hurt?"

Jamie Grimm just wants to be the Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic! Unlike other kids who think that they are funny, Jamie actually is. Even as the new kid in school, he has found a group of friends he can be himself around and who see him for who he is. Which, considering that he is in a wheelchair, is more important than it may seem. But even with the world’s best friends; the real question is does he have the confidence to enter the contest, get up on that stage and actually compete? But Jamie’s road to stand-up comedy has been a hard one. It is only when he stops running that he is able to give the funniest performance of his life. Through it all, Jamie learns that hope is a persistent thing and that laughter truly is the best medicine.

I’m not even sure where to begin this review. I have read a few books over the past year about kids with different disabilities. Bluefish by Pat Schmatz and Out of My Head by Sharon M. Draper have been my two favorites. But while those two titles are about the characters overcoming their disabilities, it is such an important thing to include main characters like Jamie in a story where his disability isn’t the basis of the plot. The story is about his dream to become a stand-up comic, not his path to adapt to a new life in a new school and a wheelchair.

Jamie has learned the hard way that laughter truly is the best medicine. But that is the beautiful thing about a story like this, even though it could have been horribly tragic and focused solely on Jamie’s suffering; Jamie chose to laugh instead of cry. Now, we get to laugh with him. I don’t want to spoil it, well maybe all of it, but I think chapters 66 and 67 are my absolute favorite. Jamie’s family was killed in a car crash that only he survived, but it left him paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. You can’t run, or roll (as Jamie might put it), from your past. Good or bad, your past is part of what has made you who you are. But my ultimate favorite quote is this “You ever hear this old expression: When the world says ‘Give up,’ hope whispers ‘Try it one more time’?”

The trademark short chapters keep the pace moving and Jamie's humor keeps us rolling! This is a great book for boys and girls alike, and a wonderful message about not giving up on your dreams. The illustrations just make it even better. Will I Funny become a series? I hope so, because he is, funny.

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