by Stephen Emond


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Cute girls dig him. He has his own fan club

But he wasn't always this awesome. He used to be Mr. Comic Book, a resident of Lonelyland. So when he swtiched schools, he slapped on a grin and went from big nerd to big shot.

Meet Happyface. This is his journal.

This unique combination of text and fully integrated art follows the journey of a dorky, quiet, artsy kid as he reinvents himself after moving to a new town, where he's nicknamed Happyface. Peek in his journal and see the world through his hilariously self-deprecating eyes as he learns to shed his comic-book-loving, computer-game playing ways. Join him as he makes new friends, tries to hide from his messy past, forgives the people who have hurt him most, and ultimately learns to face the world with a genuine smile.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

[star] "Comic artist Emond (Emo Boy) pens an endearing and self-deprecatingly witty debut novel à la illustrated diary...The illustrations range from comics to more fleshed-out drawings. Just like Happyface's writing, they can be whimsical, thoughtful, boyishly sarcastic, off-the-cuff, or achingly beautiful.—Publishers Weekly, starred review

[star] "Moving easily between cartoons and painterly black-and-white illustration, this epistolary novel of a young teen's reinvention of self is subtle and effective... Poignantly real journal entries, e-mails and chat sessions allow readers to see into Happyface's world... [an] engaging and absolutely heartfelt tale.—Kirkus, starred review

School Library Journal

Gr 7–10—Happyface is a shy, artistic sophomore, awkwardly coping with life from the sidelines. When horrific tragedy tears his family apart, he finds himself living in a ratty apartment with his newly sober mom and attending a new high school. Bottling up his grief and fear, he pastes a big smile on his face and makes a fresh start as the class clown. It works for a while and, surrounded by popular friends who know nothing of his real story, Happyface pursues the enigmatic Gretchen, struggling to interpret her mixed signals. Inevitably, the suppressed inner feelings build until Happyface blows up, finally giving him the chance to come clean and make an authentically fresh start without hiding behind a mask. Emond tells the story via the teen's illustrated journal, authentically capturing his up-and-down emotions. The pencil-and-ink sketches, comics, and doodles, paired with a disastrously small handwriting font, lend an intimate stream-of-consciousness feel to a story by turns funny, wrenching, quirky, and redemptive.—Joyce Adams Burner, National Archives at Kansas City, MO

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316040990
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 06/14/2011
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 353,139
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Emond, Stephen

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2010 Emond, Stephen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316041003


We went out on the boat today. The sun was setting and I was out on the ocean with Mom and Dad, Everett, and yes, Chloe Hills. Chloe is the hottest girl to say more than three words to me that didn’t include the term lamewad.

The wind was blowing and I was sitting by Chloe and everything was just about perfect…

… but it’s usually the best moments that make me the most nervous.

Chloe has been my friend for a few months now, and my family keeps pushing me to make some kind of move. I know they just want what’s best for me, but that’s like giving me a trampoline and expecting me to jump the Grand Canyon. They don’t really understand what Chloe is and what I am. We are not of the same species. Our commingling would be illegal in most states.

Believe me, I want to ask her out, I want to tell her she’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, I want to tell her “Sweet honey, be mine,” but if I say those things, I won’t even have her as a friend anymore. My macking skills are way wack. I am the least pimpin’ kid in school and I’m not the slightest bit OG. MTV has failed me completely.

I didn’t even want to invite her on the boat. I didn’t want her seeing my family. I didn’t want any of it but Mom kept pestering me, Dad was curious to meet her, and really, I shouldn’t have to repeat that Chloe is a real girl more than three times. There was no way this day could have turned out as anything but an embarrassment. And I was not let down.


5. She might cut into my wall-staring time.

4. I couldn’t ask her out; the phrase “Am I going to have to get one of those restraining-order dealies?” would be too painful to hear.

3. Standing beside Chloe is sure to elicit “My God, that’s a well-trained monkey” at least once.

2. Wouldn’t want to have to start combing my hair or anything.

1. I’m synonymous with three words:

Damn near invisible.

It seemed everyone had something to say and their own form of humiliating me. Dad was too aggressive, and frankly, a huge liar.

Mom is too close to me and has long forgotten what attractive traits in a man are.

Everett was being his typical big brother self. I like him better when he’s at college.

He’ll have his first book published by graduation!

He’s such a sweet boy, I’m sure you’ve heard him stutter when he’s nervous.

You deserve an award, Chloe. It’s not easy having pipsqueak follow you around all day; I know.

Maybe SHE follows ME.

Ever think of that?


“I had no idea it’d be so cold,” Chloe said. “I figured ‘out in the sun, dress light.’” I sat there cursing myself for bringing her. She was miserable; she even had goose bumps on her arms.

Dad brought his coat over to her. “The lady’s cold, show a little class, son.” I think I was disappointing him.

Everyone was talking to Chloe and quickly getting to know her even better than I did. Apparently she toured the east coast with a ballet group and has been featured on TV several times. Who knew? I just looked at my feet and scratched a hole into my arm.

Dad pulled me to the side for one of our luckily infrequent father-son talks. He was looking me in the eye. It made me feel like I was in trouble. “I get it,” he said. “She’s too pretty; you’re shy and nervous.”

If he got it, we wouldn’t have been out there.

“I was that way, too,” he continued. “Believe it or not, you’re the spitting image of me at your age.” Somehow I didn’t believe it. “You’re gonna get older, like I did, and I know it doesn’t feel like it now but it happens fast, and you’re going to realize later that we’re all just people. The cute ones, the not-so-cute ones, the popular people, the successful people, the rich and poor, we’re all the same.

“Chloe’s a girl just like any other girl. And if you don’t let her know how you feel, then she’s never going to know. Girls may seem otherworldly, but trust me, they aren’t mind readers.” He even put a hand on my shoulder. He’d been drinking a bit, so that has to be part of it. “You’re a sincere guy, and you have feelings. That’s nothing to hide.”

It was the most he’d ever said to me in one sitting. Drunk or not, I couldn’t just let the guy down. I had to say something, if not for me, then for Dad. This was a lot of effort for him.

I sat by Chloe and stretched to put my arm around her. Well, I rested it behind her, which I will count as “around her.” Confidence was at an all-time high, and now seemed as good a time as any to make a move. Dad smiled, Mom looked so happy. Chloe and I belonged in a picture frame in the store.

“It’s so pretty out here,” I said, thinking Chloe was in the zone and feeling it, too. I turned to face her. The wind pulled her hair, wrapped it around me, and I said the following: “But not as pretty as you.”

I learned today that you don’t say these things in front of family. Everett did a spit-take and he wasn’t even drinking anything. Mom flushed red and tried her best not to laugh; even Dad cracked a smile as he turned away from me. “That didn’t just happen,” Everett said. Chloe was blushing when everyone finally burst into laughter. I wanted to look at the camera and shrug my shoulders as the trumpets of failure played the Price Is Right losing theme.

Where’s an anchor when you need one?


1. Fourth grade—Sitting in the library, Kerri House asks if she can take one of the empty chairs at my table as I sit alone. She feels bad and invites me to sit with her and her friends, which I decline. Still, the thought was very nice.

2. Sixth grade—Everett throws a party when Mom and Dad are out for the weekend, and lets me hang out the whole night. Or until ten o’ clock when I fall asleep.

3. Seventh grade—I win the art award in school at the end of the year, and for some inexplicable reason, the whole auditorium cheers me.

4. Eighth grade—Mom sends my cartoons in to the local paper, and they run a full-page story on me with the creepiest headline possible for what was supposed to be a fluff piece: “Kid in the Corner Might Be Drawing You.”

5. And second semester, ninth grade—I meet Chloe.


Excerpted from Happyface by Emond, Stephen Copyright © 2010 by Emond, Stephen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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