Industry juggernaut Patterson invents this fanciful origin story for his kid-lit imprint.
Jimmy, the adult author–cum–child narrator, believes that kids should write books for other kids. Mixing fantasy with Rand-ian can-do, Jimmy explains “how an ordinary kid like me got his own publishing company.” Yard sales, an encouraging librarian who seems calibrated to pander to other encouraging librarians, and eccentric “bazillionaires” help Jimmy turn his dream into an outlandish reality. Despite continually proclaiming the superiority of books “by kids/for kids,” Patterson name-drops some 38 other adult-authored titles, with literary references peppered throughout. Multiple Patterson-created characters appear as well, compiled at the end in an easy-to-shop list. For example, Jamie Grimm of I Funny (2013) motivates Jimmy using a clichéd disability-inspiration trope, causing Jimmy to muse that Jamie “laughed and cracked jokes when he could’ve been sad and glum.” Black-and-white spot drawings illustrate the mostly white characters and situations. The message to “never, ever, ever give up!” on a dream is perfect for adults parroting that refrain to children without examining how Jimmy’s privileges are more instrumental in this imagining than his persistence.
This zany romp through venture capitalism and self-promotion self-identifies as a story “that kids will love”—but readers will be better served by any of the titles named throughout. (Fiction 7-10)