I Even Funnier: A Middle School Story

Book review by
Barbara Lawrence, Common Sense Media
I Even Funnier: A Middle School Story Book Poster Image
Middle-school comic perseveres in funny, poignant sequel.

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age 10+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

I Even Funnier: A Middle School Story offers good insight into the ins and outs of middle-school life. As Jamie's good friend Gilda almost becomes his girlfriend, readers pick up wisdom about handling that complex balance. Along the way, the story helps middle schoolers make good decisions about the difficult issues they face every day. Jamie is a positive role model for studying and persevering. He's in a wheelchair, orphaned, and bullied by his own cousin, yet he finds the strength to carry on with a positive attitude.

Positive Messages

In I Funny: A Middle School Story, and now in I Even Funnier, protagonist Jamie suffers real tragedy and hardship. He lost his parents in a car crash; and now his friend Gaynor's mother has cancer and his beloved Uncle Frankie has a heart attack. But Patterson manages to avoid schmaltz as his characters rise above their troubles and succeed, through their own perseverance and the help of others. Jamie and his friends are there for each other, and their community is there, too, when things get tough.

 

Over and over in I Even Funnier: A Middle School Story Jamie pokes fun at being wheelchair-bound that is both funny and insightful, hitting just the right balance. Readers can gain a lot of compassion for and understanding about people with disabilities.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Despite the many troubles of his short life, Jamie remains positive but doesn't become saccharine. His life with his dull aunt and uncle reminds him of the oat gruel they serve each morning for breakfast, but he's grateful they took him in when he had nowhere else to go. There's much more to Jamie than your typical smart-aleck middle-school character, thanks to his experience and insights. The fact that Jamie's in a wheelchair is dealt with in an upfront and pitiless way. His disability doesn't get in the way of his crushes and friendships or his dream of becoming the Planet's Funniest Comic.

Violence

As in all of James Patterson's Middle School books, there's a bully or two. Worse, the biggest bully at Long Beach Middle School is Jamie's cousin Stevie, who, along with his cronies, bullies everyone without a shred of compassion. Jamie lives in Stevie's house, so he gets bullied 24/7. His and his friends' reactions give some insight into the problem of bullying.

Sex

Mild kissing and very middle school-appropriate dialogue between boys and girls.

Language
Consumerism

James Patterson's books always include lots of brand names and product placements, and this is no exception. Mentions include Nestle Crunch, iPhone, YouTube, McDonald's, Red Bull, and Madden NFL Football, as well as many references to movies, books, and TV shows.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Even Funnier: A Middle School Story, by James Patterson and coauthor Chris Grabenstein, is a great follow-up to I Funny: A Middle School Story. From his wheelchair, hero Jamie continues his quest to be a stand-up comedian, despite bullies and the hard luck life's dealt him. Girls, friendships, and a mean principal all contribute to a touching, insightful story, enhanced by a primer on telling jokes and some age-appropriate humor. There's mild kissing and very middle school-appropriate dialogue between boys and girls.

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What's the story?

In I Funny, Jamie wins a regional comedy competition after suffering many hard knocks. In I EVEN FUNNIER: A MIDDLE SCHOOL STORY, the story focuses on his efforts to win the world title, despite a fresh set of challenges: His best friend Gaynor's mom has cancer, which causes problems for Gaynor at school, and his supportive Uncle Frankie suffers a heart attack. But Jamie never loses his positive attitude or the ability to see the humor in a situation, as he remains resilient, committed to his friends, and uncannily able to remember jokes -- good and bad. As he perseveres in his quest to become the Planet's Funniest Comic, Jamie finds rewards and learns some good life lessons.

Is it any good?

Hilarious in parts, I Even Funnier also has sad moments. As in the other Middle School books, author James Patterson combines a fast-paced style with great graphics to tell an appealing story. There's a bit too much emphasis on bullying, but he represents middle-school problems with a lot of insight and humor. Readers will identify with Jamie and his friends; Jamie's character reads just right, with no self-pity and a lively appreciation for the humor of life's difficult situations.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Jamie's disability. How does being in a wheelchair affect the way people treat him? Discuss how stereotypes affect people with disabilities.

  • James Patterson mentions a lot of products in his books. Do they improve the story, or are they just product placements?

  • Why are books about middle school so popular? Which ones have you read that get it right?

Book details

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