Almost everyone tells a little white lie sometime. Not Wallace Wallace, who is honest to a fault. If a neighbor lady's cake tastes like "vacuum cleaner fuzz," he tells her. When he refuses to praise a book he hates in a book report, he's taken off the football team and forced to serve detention at play practice. The play being rehearsed is an adaptation of the same book that he hates—the one in which the dog dies. Wallace hates the fact that, in classic literature, the dog always dies. With the help of a speeding moped, several roller blades, and a band called the Dead Mangoes, he finds himself transforming the play from boring to spectacular. Wallace Wallace is a winning character who somehow manages to bring out the best in everyone, even frowning, inflexible Mr. Fogleman. If some of the action seems unlikely, it doesn't really matter. This book, told from multiple first-person points-of-view, gives readers a funny and thoughtful glimpse at the consequences of refusing to lie—no matter what. Is honesty really the best policy? Read about the maze of problems the truth causes at Bedford Middle School and decide for yourself.
When one has a father who lies about everythingall the timethere are bound to be repercussions. In Wallace's case, it leads to his parents' divorce and his NEVER telling a lie. Wallace is an eighth grader who, through no particular effort on his part, scored the winning touchdown in seventh grade's championship game. He now is seen as indispensable to the football team. He also is serving detention because he wrote a review of the book Old Shep, My Pal that reflected how he really felt, and Wallace never liesit was the worse book he had ever read. His detention takes the form of watching the drama club prepare its play for this semester. The play isof courseOld Shep, My Pal. Detention precludes his being on the football team. These situations, coupled with the usual problems that middle school adolescents have with peer relationships, keeps the reader busy trying to follow all the happenings and characters. Add the fact that someone is sabotaging the play and the suspects are the football team members, and readers have a rollicking story. Humor abounds here, but underlying is the true angst of the middle school student. The characters are well developed, if a bit larger than life. The vocabulary is within the reach of most students. The antics of the young teens will keep the reader interested, making this novel a good purchase for any middle school library. PLB $16.49. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P J (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Hyperion/Disney, 160p, $15.99. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Susan Allen
SOURCE: VOYA, December 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 5) <%ISBN%> 0786805315
This funny tale begins when a high school football player with the unlikely name of Wallace Wallace is asked by his eighth-grade English teacher to write a book review on Old Shep, My Pal. Humor results when Wallace Wallace, a boy reknown for his unbridled honesty, tells his teacher that this is "the most boring book that he has ever read" because he knew that Old Shep, the dog, was going to die before he even read page one. As Wallace Wallace says matter of factly to his teacher, "every book with a dog on its cover always dies." His teacher, though, takes affront at Wallace Wallace's remarks. His teacher loves the book, and moreover, is directing the school play entitled-that's right-Old Shep, My Pal. The play becomes the source for his teacher's punishment for Wallace Wallace's blunt review, and soon, Wallace finds himself assigned to a part in the production. The teacher hopes to change his student's independent mind, but Wallace Wallace has different plans. Wallace Wallace begins to ad-lib, and soon this touching story of a boy and his beloved dog becomes a rollicking "roller-blade, rock and roll" rendition of a classic tale of friendship and love. Young teens will enjoy this story of a young boy who could not tell even a tiny lie. Genre: Honesty/True to Life 2000, Hyperion Books, 180 pp., $15.99. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Selenia Rodriguez; Orlando, Florida
Korman has this genre perfected: the funny story about middle school, with sort-of-bad kidssmart and sassy ones anywayprevailing. Wallace Wallace is our hero. He was the hero of the school for coming off the football bench to win last year's championship for the school; this year he can't play football because he is in detention for refusing to write a positive book report about Old Shep, My Pal for English. He cannot tell a lie, he says. So he is hanging out after school where his English teacher is directing the drama club's production of a play based on this same book. His football friends are furious because the team is losing and they feel he could save them. Wallace ends up suggesting all kinds of changes in the play, to the horror of the English teacher and Rachel, the president of the drama clubbut his changes in fact make the play much livelier, and it is a wild success. That's the bare outline of the plot. What makes the book fun are the zany characters and the crazy ideas. For example, Wallace's best friend is Rick, a football player's version of Mrs. Malaprop, spouting mangled versions of clichés on nearly every page. Then there is the ditzy girl with a crush on Wallace, and her chapters recounting the events as she sees them. Lurking around is the school newspaper reporter who manages to get every detail wrongnot exactly inaccurate, but with the wrong interpretation, and these hilarious articles are reproduced in the novel, adding another level of humor. Rachel is writing her heart out to Julia Roberts; someone is trying to sabotage the play and put the blame on Wallace; the dog doesn't die at the end of the play after all; well, sort of.Witty funand we can certainly use more humorous books for this age group, especially those with appeal to boys as well as girls. KLIATT Codes: JRecommended for junior high school students. 2001, Hyperion, 180p., $15.99. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; KLIATT , November 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 6)