A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Laugh Out Loud is a self-referential story by James Patterson (I Funny, Middle School) and Chris Grabenstein (Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library) about a boy who starts his own publishing company -- like Patterson did. They aim to get readers fired up to follow their own dreams by showing how Jimmy persists despite money problems (including a failed bid to win the lottery), mocking adults, and unexpected setbacks. Very few adults encourage the young entrepreneur, but those who do come around end up going all in. His parents end up losing their jobs because of Jimmy's initial hiccups starting his business. Several brands are mentioned, along with references to kid-lit classics and Patterson's own books. The characters are drawn primarily from Patterson's dozens of books for children, and a who's who list identifies which book each appears in.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Young Jimmy has a dream: to create LAUGH OUT LOUD, a company that would publish books by kids for kids. Jimmy loves reading and is convinced the best books for kids should be written by kids. His friends are wildly enthusiastic, but the adults he turns to for help make fun of his dream. Like a classic startup, Jimmy's business starts with him working in his garage, writing and printing his stories. He eventually sells his homemade books to raise money to scale up. To go really big, however, Jimmy's going to need to find angel investors who won't laugh out loud when he shares his dream.
Is it any good?
Frequent collaborators James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein (Treasure Hunters series) set out to inspire young dreamers with their fictional origin story of a boy who dreams of being a publisher. Laugh Out Loud works hard to sell kids on the magic of reading, but this ends up being a bit like the bland "broccoli books" Jimmy and his friends scorn. The repetitive plot is jammed with trite sayings seemingly plucked from motivational posters: "A kid who reads is a kid who succeeds," for example, and "Once you can read, you are forever free!" Characters are barely sketched out and shoehorned in to maximize references to Patterson's many books. It's a lighthearted book, but the funniest bits are found in illustrator Jeff Ebbeler's charming line drawings.
Would-be entrepreneurs will appreciate the nods to Silicon Valley startups and superstars, and take a few notes from Jimmy's quest to secure venture capital. Perhaps after reading this book by adults for kids, some will fulfill the vision of creating books by kids for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about motivational books like Laugh Out Loud. Do stories like this inspire you to pursue your own goals? What lessons did you learn from this book, or others like it?
The authors work in a lot of references to their own books. What do you think is the difference between appealing to fans and simply advertising?
Who and what in your own life inspire your stories and other creative projects? Who supports you when you struggle to fulfill a dream?
- Authors: James Patterson, Chris Grabenstein
- Illustrator: Jeff Ebb
- Genre: Humor
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: jimmy patterson
- Publication date: September 28, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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