Happy Kid!

Happy Kid!

2.7 8
by Gail Gauthier
     
 

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All cynical Kyle wants is to get through the seventh grade unnoticed, but a self-help book from his well-meaning mother changes all that. Magically, the book seems to know all about him. And it wants him to improve his life.

Not only is he friendless, mistakenly taking super-difficult accelerated courses, and infamous for allegedly being involved in a violent

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Overview

All cynical Kyle wants is to get through the seventh grade unnoticed, but a self-help book from his well-meaning mother changes all that. Magically, the book seems to know all about him. And it wants him to improve his life.

Not only is he friendless, mistakenly taking super-difficult accelerated courses, and infamous for allegedly being involved in a violent "incident" on the bus (a rep that has the school terror sticking to him like glue), one of the true A Kids wants to lure him into questioning whether his class cheated on their state exams. How could a book help anyone through this kind of misery?

Author Biography: Gail Gauthier lives in Connecticut.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA
Self-help books can be creepy, but the copy of Happy Kid! A Young Person's Guide to Satisfying Relationships and a Happy and Meaning-Filled Life that Kyle owns is positively haunting. Kyle, a loner with a reputation as a troublemaker, is bribed by his mother to read the book. As he opens random chapters, he notices that the messages are oddly relevant to what is going on in his life. In his enriched English class, his teacher gives the class an essay assignment and when the essay question turns up verbatim on a statewide standardized test, Kyle and his Happy Kid advice have to make a decision: Tell the principal about the suspected cheating and jeopardize the standardized test scores of every "A-Kid" in school, or let it go and not further his status as social outcast. Despite the fact that Kyle is a likeable, relatable character, the many subplots in this book slow it down and make it feel preachy at the end. In addition to the cheating scandal and the clairvoyant book, Kyle is dealing with a crush on a girl in his English class, repairing his relationship with the school's tech-ed teacher, learning tae kwon do, and surviving his well-meaning if overbearing mother. Although this life multitasking is not unrealistic, it takes away from the pacing of the book. The dialogue, especially at the end, is often stilted and the peripheral characters are stereotypes. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P M J (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, Putnam Juvenile, 227p., Ages 11 to 15.
—Carlisle Kraft Webber
Children's Literature - Rachel Sparks
Kyle Rideau's goal in life is to make it through middle school unnoticed, especially after the school administration mistakenly labels him a "bad boy" and puts him in accelerated classes for a seemingly violent accident. Since his family thinks he's way too negative, his mom, a family and child therapist, buys him a self-help book called Happy Kid! Kyle tosses the book aside, but when his mom promises to pay him for every chapter he reads, he decides to give Happy Kid! a chance. Soon, Kyle realizes that Happy Kid! isn't everything he initially expected. The book seems to have some sort of magical powers and knows exactly what kind of advice to give Kyle to improve his daily life. In a matter of months, Kyle's life goes from friendless and dreary to exciting and full of meaningful relationships, thanks to Happy Kid! Kyle doesn't realize how much the book has changed him until he must make a decision that will ultimately mean a choice between fitting in and doing what's right. Since middle school is often a time of awkward transitions, lots of young readers will be able to identify with Kyle's struggles to fit in and be happy. Gauthier uses an effective mix of reality and fantasy in this novel to stress the importance of strong mental health for adolescents and gives advice on easing oneself through rough teenage years.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-To Kyle, Bert P. Trotts Middle School is "the gateway to hell.'' All he wants is to get through seventh grade unnoticed. Since he's infamous for an incident with a screwdriver on the bus in sixth grade that was blown way out of proportion by the administration, and he has been placed in accelerated classes, he has lost all of his friends. On the night before school starts, his mother gives him a book to help him counteract his negativity, claiming that Happy Kid: A Young Person's Guide to Satisfying Relationships and a Happy and Meaning-filled Life just screamed his name when she saw it. But the book seems to have a plan of its own, falling open to the parts that are pertinent to the zany situations that Kyle finds himself in, although sometimes offering advice that makes his life more complicated. Gauthier perfectly describes a typically self-absorbed teenage boy who sees himself as an underdog. Her one-liners, rapid-fire humor, and sharp ear for dialogue make this a quick, funny read. This portrait of middle school will ring all too true to students who run that gauntlet daily.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Whimsical feel-good comedy about a friendless seventh-grade boy who receives a life-changing self-help book that may have magical properties. This slyly fanciful but unambiguously humorous story opens when Kyle, a hapless kid who's negative enough to make a cheerleader boo, gets a book from his well-meaning but irritating mother titled Happy Kid! A Young Person's Guide to Satisfying Relationships and a Happy and Meaning-filled Life! Although he's horrified by the gift and initially has to be bribed to read it, Kyle finds that weirdly, miraculously, the book works, though not always in the way he would like. Gauthier, who pulls off the difficult feat of writing an amiable, malice-free send-up of self-help, brilliantly nails Kyle's helping professional mom. Kyle's lightly sketched father is a genuine hoot, and her depiction of the constantly undulating social status and insecurities of middle-grade kids rings true. Light and slight, won't produce life long happiness, but will certainly give the reader an enjoyable couple of hours. (Fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399242663
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/18/2006
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.76(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.91(d)
Lexile:
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 Years

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