My Life as a Cartoonist

( 18 )

Overview

There's a new kid in Derek Fallon's class. His name is Umberto and he uses a wheelchair. Derek's family is still fostering Frank the monkey, and Derek thinks it would be great to train Frank to assist Umberto. But Derek quickly realizes that Umberto is definitely not looking for any help. Derek soon becomes the butt of Umberto's jokes. On top of that, Umberto starts stealing Derek's cartoon ideas and claiming them as his own. How did Derek get himself into this mess, and how can he find a way out before he is the...

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Overview

There's a new kid in Derek Fallon's class. His name is Umberto and he uses a wheelchair. Derek's family is still fostering Frank the monkey, and Derek thinks it would be great to train Frank to assist Umberto. But Derek quickly realizes that Umberto is definitely not looking for any help. Derek soon becomes the butt of Umberto's jokes. On top of that, Umberto starts stealing Derek's cartoon ideas and claiming them as his own. How did Derek get himself into this mess, and how can he find a way out before he is the laughingstock of school? The answer may very well be his cartoon strip--SUPER FRANK!
My Life as a Cartoonist features illustrations by Janet Tashjian's son, Jake Tashian.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

When a wheelchair-bound kid arrives in his classroom, Derek has a bright idea. He decides to train the family's pet monkey to help Umberto. But the new kid isn't appreciative; in fact, he resents the idea and begins making jokes about Derek. Before long, things escalate: Umberto begins pilfering Derek's cartoon ideas and claiming that he is the victim of theft. Finally, Derek decides that there is only one way to save his endangered reputation: a cartoon strip. A humanizing story about personal relations.

From the Publisher

Praise for My Life as a Cartoonist:
starred review Booklist

* "Give this to kids who think they don't like reading. It might change their minds."
BCCB

Fans of the first will be utterly delighted by this sequel and anxious to see what [Derek] will turn up as next.
Booklist

This is a great package for kids, especially those like Derek who don't think they like to read.
From The Critics
Praise for My Life as a Book:

* “Give this to kids who think they don’t like reading. It might change their minds.” —Booklist, starred review

* “A kinder, gentler Wimpy Kid with all the fun and more plot.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Sure to engage fans of Jeff Kinney’s ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ books as well as those looking for a spunky, contemporary boy with a mystery to solve.” —School Library Journal

Praise for My Life as a Stuntboy:

“Another fun, emotionally resonant read for the Wimpy Kid set and beyond.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A fast-moving plot and relatable protagonist make this stand-alone sequel a good choice for boys who, like Derek, would rather reach for a TV remote or game controller than a book.” —School Library Journal

“Fans of the first will be utterly delighted by this sequel and anxious to see what [Derek] will turn up as next.” —BCCB

“This is a great package for kids, especially those like Derek who don’t think they like to read.” —Booklist

Praise for My Life as a Cartoonist:

"Cartoonist Derek grapples with a perplexing association between disability and bullying in this stand-alone sequel to My Life as a Book (2010) and My Life as a Stuntboy (2011)." — Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Cartoonist Derek grapples with a perplexing association between disability and bullying in this stand-alone sequel to My Life as a Book (2010) and My Life as a Stuntboy (2011). Derek has two best friends at school and two beloved critters at home, including Frank, a capuchin monkey who's practicing family life before training as a service animal. Frank's the model for Derek's comic, Super Frank. Drawing's a fun challenge; reading's a difficult chore, though the stick-figure cartoons with which Derek illustrates his vocabulary words enliven the margins. Each playful sketch portrays a word from the adjacent paragraph but in an amusingly different context--"ingenious" shows up as a cupcake machine. Derek's life takes a turn for the worse when transfer-student Umberto targets him. Umberto steals Derek's cartoon ideas and makes him a "verbal punching bag." The bullying arc is fairly standard, but the bully isn't, at least physically: Umberto uses a wheelchair. On one hand, Tashjian creates a real anti-stereotype in this speedy wheeling boy who could (and would) easily crush Derek with a lacrosse stick if teachers weren't around. However, after the boys bond, Derek's funny narrative voice ("Frank's fur is now covered in a helmet of peanut butter") indulges in a few adult-sounding, rose-colored disability clichés, saying that Umberto possesses "honesty and grace" and "inspires me." This entertaining read leaves some provoking questions unanswered--usefully. (Fiction. 9-12)
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Twelve-year-old Derek (a native of Los Angeles) has already lived through incarnations as a book and a stuntboy. This time he is a cartoonist. The artistic life is just right for Derek: he loves to draw (even the cartoon definitions he has been sketching ever since his mother discovered he hates to read). In this third book of the "My Life" series, Tashjian involves Derek and best friends Matt and Carly in several emotional tangles endemic to middle school—bullying, defusing an unsettling new kid in class, awakening to the idea of a romantic relationship. Derek has developed cartoon-hero Super Frank based on the family's own capuchin monkey. He struggles with getting the cartoon lettering professional and looks to his father (a movie storyboard artist) for help and encouragement. The bullying appears from a surprising source: the new kid's in a wheelchair, but instead of responding to Derek's try at friendship, Umberto makes fun of him and his cartoons. Umberto is tough; he can drive his wheelchair faster than the boys can run, he is an expert with a lacrosse stick, and he steals Derek's supermonkey idea. To make things worse, best-friend Carly has acquired a cool surfer boyfriend to divert her attention from Derek and Matt. Tashjian displays her talent for capturing preteen voices and emotions, while creating believable, often endearing, characters trying to grow and survive middle school. The bold typeface suggests hand printing and—in a great idea for a glossary—Jake Tashjian's vocabulary cartoons pop up in the margins just when they are needed, provoking a quick chuckle as well. Fans of Derek's earlier adventures will find this tale just as funny, recognizable, and engrossing. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805096095
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 4/30/2013
  • Series: My Life Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 78,848
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 860L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Janet Tashjian

Janet Tashjian is the author of many popular novels including My Life as a Stuntboy and My Life as a Book, both illustrated by her son, Jake Tashjian; as well as The Gospel According to Larry and For What It's Worth. She lives with her family in Los Angeles, California.

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Read an Excerpt

Super Frank!

 

improved

“That’s great!” my dad says as he puts the comic strip down. “Your drawings have really improved.”

I look over my father’s shoulder and examine my work. “No matter how long I work on it, my printing still looks like I’m in second grade.”

professional

“It takes a lot of practice for lettering to look professional.”

As if that’s any kid’s idea of fun—sitting around on a sunny afternoon filling notebooks with row after row of straight block letters.

flattered

My father closes the cover of the pad and hands it back to me. “Too bad Frank doesn’t know he’s the star of your comic strip. He’d be flattered.”

Dad doesn’t realize I’ve already shown Frank my drawings. It may be my imagination but by the way my capuchin monkey jumped up and down, I think he WAS flattered.

“Mac and cheese with stewed tomatoes,” Mom calls from the kitchen. “Wash up and come to the table.”

cringe

My father and I look at each other and cringe. “Why does she take something perfect like macaroni and cheese then throw something terrible like stewed tomatoes in to wreck it?” I ask.

“You know how Mom likes to sneak healthy food into everything,” Dad whispers back. “But I have to agree with you—it’s a crime to mess with mac and cheese.”

inadvertently

As I put away my pad, I realize Dad’s inadvertently given me the plot of my next comic strip: SUPER FRANK VS. THE WOMAN WHO WRECKED MAC AND CHEESE.

I can’t wait until Ms. McCoddle’s class tomorrow to start working on it.

 

Text copyright © 2013 by Janet Tashjian

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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(17)

4 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2013

    A good book

    A good book. I like the series

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2013

    Great book

    Awesome book read more of her books ;) :B

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2014

    Great book, this book is great because i came up with the name my life as a cartoonist.

    this is one of my favorite books I have ever read.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2013

    YOU HATE THIS BOOK WELL THEN YOU HATE READING

    BOSS BOOK

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2013

    Hxdxfxhfxdynfjffufufujucuuijcjjkcjcjjgj

    I loved the my life as a series :) hhsufggduffutffgjtttggggggyhfftffftfttfggghhhyyfgjghggggggghgggvgggvggvgghgggjjggghhhuhuhhhuhhbhjohhkovoyhvkvkvkhkvkvkykvlvlvkvkyfkyvhhfhvhvhvhvyfhfhfyfyfhfyfjcjgdudjdhfxjdjgcjgdjxjgxjxjxjgjgdtjdjsgjgdnx
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    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2013

    Bhfxbchccchchfbcbfhhffhhhfhfhfhfhfhhfhfhhffffffffhhhhhhhhfhhffhffffghgggghhhhhhhhhhnhhhhhghhhhhhhnbhhhhhhhhbhhhbfnfbffbrtefwgffgfvdcffdfffass hhcgcyfgcygfvgcfggggffffgffcffdcfgtfuckhhggfhfjfjxhvxfhhcfhhcvbbbbbbnnnnb nnnnnjjjuiuyhvvgggfgrrrrrrrtgggghy

    Sup

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2014

    Who wants to be my nook friend?

    Im 12. A girl and my name is Catalina but you can call me Cat. If you give me your first/last name and email address we can be nook friends :) ps plse tell me your age

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    ITS THE BEST

    ITS THE BEST

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2014

    Epic

    Great book

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2013

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    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2013

    To itslagycrap

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    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2013

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    1 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2014

    Fresh

    Hi im sophia. Im 12 and i like funny boys.im a cute blondy and im from america. Anyway if you want to be nook friends pass me your email and name.(maybe we could be friends);D

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2015

    Who wants to be my friend

    Please tell me your email adress age name and we can be friends by the way im eleven

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2014

    Yup

    Good

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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