A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pottymouth and Stoopid is about best friends whose quirkiness is misunderstood -- and ridiculed -- by everyone around them, including teachers and school administrators. It's the latest collaboration by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein (I Funny: A Middle School Story). Seventh-graders Michael and David are ostracized by peers who follow the lead of a popular girl most people don't recognize as mean. Michael lives with bickering, unsupportive foster parents. David is being raised by his overworked single mom -- he refers to his selfish father, who doesn't support David in any way and ultimately exploits his child, as his Ex-Dad. Though the story has plenty of humor and the ending is uplifting, there's a pervasive sadness: David narrates with brutal honesty just how miserable he and Michael feel. There are precious few caring adults, and one of them dies. There's no cursing, though a flurry of symbols pepper arguments between Michael's foul-mouthed parents. Michael's Pottymouth nickname is due to his habit of making up words that sound like nonsense (and suspiciously off-color) to others.
What's the story?
POTTYMOUTH AND STOOPID are Michael and David, best friends since preschool -- when David was first stuck with his unfortunate nickname. Now 12, they're mocked, blamed, and targeted by classmates and teachers alike who don't recognize their talents. As if seventh grade isn't hard enough, the friends are taken by surprise when a new cartoon based on their experience -- but made without their knowledge -- becomes an overnight smash. Michael and David are suddenly famous, but they're as unpopular as ever. They fear things will never get better -- until a caring adult and a supportive pack of fellow middle school misfits stand up to the bullies.
Is it any good?
James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein return to familiar terrain with this well-told, affectionate story of two seventh-graders whose remarkable qualities can feel more like a curse than a blessing. Pottymouth and Stoopid shines a spotlight on verbal bullying, which doesn't always get taken as seriously as physical assaults, and shows how labels can take on lives of their own. The jokes, insults, and herd mentality when it comes to judging others will ring true for any middle schooler. Patterson and Grabenstein write with a keen understanding of tweens, and the fun illustrations by Stephen Gilpin (the Dragon Slayers' Academy series) help keep the tone light.
The authors spend a little too long wallowing in Michael and David's misery, and their reversal of fortune is largely due to the efforts of one parent with the law on her side, which makes the end seem a little too pat. But it's encouraging to see so many past and present underdogs cheer each other on and find strength in numbers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how bullying is depicted in Pottymouth and Stoopid. Is the name-calling and mocking by students and teachers at all like what you witness or experience in school?
What's the appeal of books about bullying?
Do you have friends or classmates who are misunderstood by their peers?
- Authors: James Patterson, Chris Grabenstein
- Illustrator: Stephen Gilpin
- Genre: School
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: JIMMY Patterson Books
- Publication date: June 12, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: August 22, 2019
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