Peter Paddington is your typical thirteen-year-old paperboy with a few exceptions. He's 204 pounds, at the mercy of an overactive imagination, and his only friend is a trash-talking beauty queen reject from across the street. As if that wasn't bad enough, Peter's nipples pop out one day and begin speaking to him, threatening to expose his private fantasies to an unkind world.
Peter knows that if he could just lose weight, develop a brand-new personality, and get rid of those pesky talking nipples, he'd be able to find the acceptance he desperately craves. But it isn't easy to change who you really are, and Peter, ready or not, is finally forced to confront his secret self. Hilarious and exquisitely touching, this is the funniest and most memorable novel you'll read all year.
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
About the Author
Brian Francis lives in Toronto. This is his first novel.
Read an Excerpt
The Secret Fruit of Peter PaddingtonA Novel
By Brian Francis
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Brian Francis
All right reserved.
My name is Peter Paddington. I just started 8th grade at Clarkedale Middle School. Six days a week, I deliver the Bluewater Observer and the other day, my nipples popped out.
I've always had boobs, but not girl-boobs. More like the "I need to lose weight" kind. I'm not thrilled about them, but they're pretty easy to hide under my sweatshirts, and it's not like I ever jog or anything, so they stay in place. Besides, I know I won't have them for much longer because I'm planning to start my diet any day and be thin and normal by Christmas.
I know that I've got my work cut out for me, because there are lots of things about me that need fixing. For starters, I'm big-boned, which is a nicer way of saying "All my pants have elasticized waistbands." When I stick my finger into my belly button, it goes just past my second knuckle. That's my own test to see if I've gained weight or not. Last year, my stomach only went to my first knuckle, so I've put on a knuckle's worth of weight this year.
There are plenty of other things wrong with my body. Last year, I started growing hair on my legs and in my armpits, which was pretty disturbing. I was already having a hard enough time getting over the new hairs around my dink. Before that, I had peach fuzz, which I didn't mind at all because it was soft and blond, like the hairs inside a corn husk. But then it turned brown and curly and now the hair looks like the stuff that comes out of the tops of corn husks, all dried up and burnt by the sun. I thought about shaving my dink hair off once, but then I read somewhere that if you shave a part of your body, the hair grows back thicker and bushier. And then you're really in a pickle, because even though you're shaving like crazy, the hair will keep coming back like an angry weed until one day, you can't even see your dink anymore. That's how hairy you'll be.
The hair on my legs is softer than the hair around my dink, but it still grosses me out. I wish my legs were bare and tanned, like James MacDonnell's. He's adopted and sits two rows over from me. He has a tan the whole year through, even in the wintertime. He must be Mexican. Or maybe Greek. James came to school the other day wearing a pair of navy blue short shorts and I couldn't stop looking down at his legs. I had to be careful that I didn't get caught, especially by Brian Cinder. He sits behind James. So I pretended to study the patterns in the linoleum tiles. Was that a cow I saw? And over there, wasn't that the face of Jesus? I chewed my lower lip to look really convincing.
Anyways, I couldn't stop thinking about James' legs and I was so jealous of them. There he was in his tube socks and short shorts, not even thinking twice about what people thought of his legs. I haven't worn a pair of shorts since 6th grade, mainly because I don't want to gross anyone out. Maybe my legs wouldn't look so bad if they were tanned like James' legs, but then, how are they ever going to get tanned if I never wear shorts? And since I never wear shorts, my legs have pimples on them from rubbing against my pant legs all summer long. So my legs have three strikes against them.
The only other boy in my class with hairy legs is Andy Dover, but he's pretty hairy all over. He's the tallest student in our class, too. Even taller than Mr. Mitchell, our teacher. I wonder if Andy is really thirteen, because he looks older. Sometimes, I think that Andy is a spy investigating our school. Maybe he's a secret agent and has to prove that the chocolate bar money we raised last year wasn't for new curtains for the stage. Instead, the money went to Mr. Gray, our principal, so he could buy drugs. Or maybe Mr. Mitchell stole the money to buy a new van for his wife and seven kids.
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that there's no way Andy could be a secret agent. He's pretty stupid and spends most of his recess making fart noises under his hairy armpit. A secret agent would find better things to do with his time.
The morning I noticed my nipples, I was getting ready for school. I couldn't decide what to wear, since it was still hot outside. My gray sweatshirt would be cooler, but I wanted to wear the new black one I got through the Sears catalogue.
While I was standing there in my underwear, trying to make up my mind, something in the mirror caught my eye and I turned to look. My nipples looked like two little cherries.
"That's not right," I thought to myself and frowned. My nipples were round and puffy and not the two pink raisins they used to be. I ran my finger over the left one. It was soft as a rose petal. I turned sideways in the mirror and went from my nipples to my big white stomach to my dink with its burnt corn husk hair to my fat, pimply, hairy legs.
"This is the last thing I need," I said.
Then my mother banged on my bedroom door. "Hurry up or you're not going to have time for breakfast!"
It was hard to pay attention at school. I was afraid that someone might see my nipples poking out from under my sweatshirt. When my pencil tip broke during math class, I should've gone up to the pencil sharpener. But I just couldn't. So I finished off my questions using the broken lead stub, which wasn't easy, and my fingertips were all black by the time I finished.
Excerpted from The Secret Fruit of Peter Paddington by Brian Francis Copyright © 2005 by Brian Francis.
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What People are Saying About This
“Funny . . . a beautiful story.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is slightly hard to read, I felt so embarrassed for poor Peter. He's naive, overweight, can't admit to his homosexuality, and is almost completely friendless. He keeps saying he has to lose weight before he starts high school, but that doesn't stop him from buying a couple candy bars every day. I think every one can see a little of their own loserdom in Peter. Despite what HM says, there IS resolution in the end. Peter grows up a little, and takes charge of his life. It ends on a hopeful note, without that horrible feeling of, 'well?? what happens??' While this wasn't the most incredible book ever, it was definitely a good (albeit painful) read. His 'night movies' are awesome.
Would recommend to those who are bored. This book kept my attention but that¿s about it. Peter Peddington is an overweight 14 year old with an over active imagination. Weighing in at 204 pounds Peter discovers that he has grown boobs and does not fit in with the rest of the kids in his class. Peter daydreams about fitting in and what conversations he would have with other people in his class. He also has disturbing ¿night movies¿ in which he fantasies about men in his neighborhood. This left me with the ¿what the¿ feeling and wondering if he might be gay. The book is funny to anyone who as ever been overweight because they can relate to some things like, shopping in the ¿big¿ section, your thighs rubbing together and other overweight dilemma¿s. The book is poorly written, has no plot line, at the end nothing has been resolved. But, it makes an excellent bathroom read.