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
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)
From the Publisher
“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
“Give this to kids who think they don't like reading. It might change their minds.” Booklist, starred review on My Life as a Book
“A kinder, gentler Wimpy Kid with all the fun and more plot.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review on My Life as a Book
“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 on My Life as a Book
“Another fun, emotionally resonant read for the Wimpy Kid set and beyond.” Kirkus Reviews on My Life as a Stuntboy
“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 on My Life as a Stuntboy
“Fans of the first will be utterly delighted by this sequel and anxious to see what [Derek] will turn up as next.” BCCB on My Life as a Stuntboy
“This is a great package for kids, especially those like Derek who don't think they like to read.” Booklist on My Life as a Stuntboy
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 schoolbullying, 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 andin a great idea for a glossaryJake 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
Read an Excerpt
“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.”
“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.
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.”
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.”
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