A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, for a book about puberty, this has surprisingly little problematic content, and the subject is handled with delicacy and humor.
What's the story?
Duane Homer Leech, unfortunately better known as Doo-Doo, is hitting puberty like a brick wall. His face is erupting, his limbs seem to have developed minds of their own, when girls are present his mouth gets stuck either on pause or fast-forward, and visions of, umm, ELBOWS (his all-purpose euphemism for bad language and pretty much any female body part that isn't an elbow) keep floating into his mind at the most inopportune times. \"All systems in full malfunction.\"
Meanwhile, outside on his windowsill, a bird has built a nest and is raising a chick. So as his life deteriorates, Duane starts a journal to keep track of both his own changes and those of the baby bird. Could there be a connection?
Is it any good?
If only all adolescents could be as light-hearted and fatalistic about the mess they're enduring as Duane, the narrator and main character. Suffering embarrassments and humiliations that would strain the self-confidence of a reality-show contestant, and getting little help from family or friends, Duane soldiers on with wit and a good heart.
Author Gary Paulsen maintains a light touch, doing no more than hint at some of Duane's problems and using witty euphemisms and circumlocutions for anything that Duane doesn't really want to talk about. Unfortunately his touch is not so light when it comes to slapstick -- it's funny, but ultimately strains credulity. Still, for kids who are in the throes of change, this might help lighten the mood.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the changes that your kids are, or soon will be, going through. Is this an accurate depiction of how you feel and what you're experiencing? Is the narrator's humor and fatalism realistic, or does it seem harder for you than for him? Are there ways it can be made easier?