I Funny: A Middle School Story

Common Sense Media says

Middle school humor mixes with moving disability subplot.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

 

Positive messages

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

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.

 

Sex

A sweet first kiss between Jamie and the "Cool Girl." 

Language

There's one reference to "giving the finger," but otherwise this book manages to realistically depict middle school without the swearing. 

Consumerism

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. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Jamie Grimm has had some tough knocks and he is now living with his aunt and her family, the humorless Kosgroves. He uses a wheelchair and lives in his aunt's garage. To make matters worse, his cousin Stevie is the school bully. Jamie uses humor to make friends as well as help himself out of difficult situations. His goal is to be the world's first \"sit-down comic\" and win the Planet's Funniest Kid Contest. Although he's had his share of hardship, revealed later in the book, he manages to pursue his dream. With the help of his kindhearted Uncle Frankie, as well as an assortment of friends, Jamie navigates his new life, follows his dream, and establishes a supportive community for himself.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

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.  

 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why books about middle school are so popular. Which ones have you read that get it right? 

  • Jamie suffers when viral texts shared among his schoolmates accuse him of succeeding only because people feel sorry for him. Why does mean-spirited gossip have such a strong affect on us?

  • When Jamie starts making his friends the butt of his jokes, he feels uncomfortable but the crowd loves it. Why is mean humor on TV, in the movies, and in real life so popular and contagious? 

Book details

Authors:Chris Grabenstein, James Patterson
Illustrator:Laura Park
Genre:Humor
Topics:Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:December 10, 2012
Number of pages:320
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Paperback

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Teen, 13 years old Written bySamuel M. July 24, 2013
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

I Funny: A powerful novel full of humor and heart

I Funny is a powerful representation of the middle school zeitgeist, with an exceptional amount of heart compared to Patterson's Middle School series. The story of Jamie's dreams of becoming a comedian despite his disability makes him a great hero to root for against his odds. The book begins as a hurricane of traditional Patterson humor, but as the book evolves it gets surprisingly moving and really hits home by the end.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Kid, 11 years old June 6, 2014
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

I think its AMAZING!!

I love it. I love how it has a way to make me feel like it is me who is in it. I have had so many books say and look like its SO FUNNY and none are but this one, yes this one speaks the TRUTH. I f i had one word to describe its is, well, FUNNY. If you ask me, I would say read it! PS it has the main character as a crippled kid and to me its says dont be afraid to be who you are.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written bygarfieldbair March 3, 2015
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Almost good.

My 2nd grade daughter wanted to read this because her 5th grade brother had. I'm baffled by the report of no swear words, she only made it to page 43 before she found one. My 5th graders says there are more. :( I don't like the age options as being for a particular age and under. Most options list as a certain age and over.

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