A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Patterson includes good insight into social life in middle school and how to navigate it. Jamie's friendships are important to him and he learns a lot about how to be a good friend. When Jamie includes jokes about his friends in his stand-up routine, he learns the difference between funny and putdowns.
Kudos to Patterson for making his main character a boy in a wheelchair. With a lot of perseverance, and of coarse humor, Jamie manages to navigate some very unpleasant aspects of his life, many of which are not revealed until later in the story. Patterson shows the teen's sensitive side, which is often masked by goofy behavior. Like the other books in his Middle School series, this one delves into some deep issues.
Positive Role Models
Jamie Grimm has had some tough knocks; he's in a wheelchair and has just moved in with his aunt's family, who are devoid of humor. Worse, his cousin Stevie is the "School Bully," whose new favorite victim is Jamie. Jamie uses humor to help navigate his difficult life, but also to build friendships. His Uncle Frankie is a beacon of kindness in Jamie's tragic life, and he and the odd assortment of customers at Frankie's diner provide a loving support network for Jamie. Deep down, Jamie is a sweet kid and treats people fairly, even Stevie.
Violence & Scariness
Bullying holds a prominent place in Patterson's Middle School books. Stevie and his buddies drag Jamie out of his wheelchair, and there's a lot of hitting, throwing, and general bullying depicted in the illustrations. One wry drawing shows a threatening Stevie underneath the ubiquitous school "Stomp-out Bullying" signs.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A sweet first kiss between Jamie and the "Cool Girl."
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There's one reference to "giving the finger," but otherwise this book manages to realistically depict middle school without the swearing.
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Products & Purchases
There's a reference to getting a good feeling like, "guzzling a six-pack of Red Bull," but in general this book stays away from specific products and represents the middle school zeitgeist in generalities.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, like author James Patterson's Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life and its sequels, I Funny: A Middle School Story gives good insight into middle school life. The twist here is that protagonist Jamie is a regular kid who happens to be in a wheelchair. Faced with the usual middle school challenges as well as a whole lot more, Jamie perseveres and strives to make it as a "sit-down comic." Filled with Laura Park's humorous illustrations, as in Patterson's other Middle School books, this is a fun read with substance. But be forewarned: Your child may start reciting one-liners 24/7. There's one kiss, no swearing, and there's a lot of hitting, throwing, and general bullying depicted in the illustrations, including Jamie being dragged out of his wheelchair by bullies.
Is It Any Good?
Fans of James Patterson's Middle School books will enjoy I FUNNY: A MIDDLE SCHOOL STORY. This fast-paced, story-driven plot uses Laura Park's clever illustrations to tell much of the story. There's enough humor to hold a middle schooler's interest, as well as insight into school life -- friends, cafeteria food, homework, bullies, and snarky text messages. But underneath the humor is a moving story of a teen in a wheelchair, who's had to face more than his fair share of tragedy. Jamie's resilience, perseverance, and desire to achieve his goal of being the world's first sit-down comedian will keep readers' cheering for him.
This book is also a compendium of some of the best and worst one-liners. Keep your rim shots ready.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.