A Captain Underpantsfor the older bunch, Kraft's (Lenny and Mel) comedic riff on male adolescence is as nerdy and hormonally driven as they come. Written like an illustrated journal of sorts with titles for each page-length entry and in often fragmented sentences, the book reads like a haphazard, stream-of-consciousness rant-one 10th-grader's perspective on high school in a small Massachusetts town. "My last name is Mayo, and I can't help but wonder if it were something different, would the Donkeys [the jocks] just ignore me? Maybe. But instead I'm Miracle Wimp," the narrator reports. He comments on everything from the varieties of wedgiesand the tortures of gym class to the difference between the cool kids and the dorks, to the nerves and eventual irritation that accompany his first date, to going to (and actually having fun at) the prom. Kraft rarely dips below the surface on any of these issues, preferring instead to try to see the humor (or the pathos) in it all. While girls may not get into the narrator's sensibility, boys who enjoy series of short takes-especially those infused with slapstick and sarcasm-will find this virtually plotless book a quick and entertaining read. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
High school is not always fun for Tom Mayo. The "cooler students" have nicknamed him "Miracle Wimp" and often try to make his life miserable. Furthermore Tom has to take shop class with the eccentric Mr. Boort, deal with girls and first dates, get his driver's license, and work a mindless first job. But Tom lives through it all by using sharp-witted humor and relying on his friends Adam and Steve. Through Tom's eyes, the reader is treated to an inside look at the life of a funny, sarcastic teenager who comically negotiates his way through the hazards of adolescence. Tom's accounts of high school life often had this reviewer laughing out loud. This novel is refreshing because the protagonist is a fairly typical suburban teen boy to whose experiences many teen boys will directly relate. The author does not go for shock value by adding controversial characters just for the sake of controversy. Reluctant readers will be drawn to the book's format. Most of Tom's diary-like entries are one page at the most and are accompanied by simple doodle drawings, making for quick reading. The ending is also refreshing in its perspective. Tom's life is no fairy tale, but by the end of the story, he is beginning to figure things out and make his way in the world. This book is recommended for school and public libraries looking for books to entice male teen readers.
This book tells YAs that high school is class-based, and that socioeconomic status along with physical development determines both friends and identity. Older readers may recognize that the situation isn't as black and white as the narrator of this novel presents it. The protagonist is 15-year-old-sophomore Tom Mayo, who the donkeys (the popular kids or "the in-crowd") call "Miracle Wimp." He is an un-athletic nerd, good in school, and thus, though he is interested in girls and dating, he remains at the bottom of the social hierarchy and subject to wedgies at any moment the donkeys desire to give him one. The story is told in a series of short vignette-like chapters that ultimately hook together in a plot. Each short chapter is illustrated with a cartoon that portrays the vicissitudes of high school life, the difficulties of dating (if you're not a donkey), the weirdness of some (if not all) teachers, the vagaries that make one person "cool" and another person "not," and the ruthlessness with which some teenagers treat each other. The novel suggests that if young people recognize that high school is a period of time to be lived through and not a permanent state, it can be survived on your own terms, and life after high school will be much, much better. It's also very funny, in a wry, self-deprecating way.
High school is never easy. But when your last name is Mayo and you've been labeled a nerd and you've been placed in Wood Shop instead of Computer Animation class, it's nearly impossible. Tom Mayo, nicknamed "Miracle Wimp" by the "Donkeys" (meat-headed jocks) at school, has only his snarky humor to help him get by. He makes friends with Rob and Barry at the beginning of the year but learns they are no better than the Donkeys. He survives his driver's test and his first job and even meets a girl he likes enough to brave the phone and ask her out. Unfortunately, Tom finds dating isn't what he expected. Kraft's first for older children is as sly and dry as his Lenny and Mel series for the early-chapte-book crowd. Most of the final art was not seen, but it will be rendered in Kraft's signature block-headed line drawings. The humor, short chapters and drawings will snag reluctant readers, and the outsiders among them will definitely relate. (Fiction. YA)