In order to cope with the terrors of middle school, Rafe Khatchadorian teams up with his imaginary friend, Leo, to become a troublemaking legend.
There’s a fine line between a class clown and a smart aleck. Class clowns make big dopey gestures to make up for superficial insecurities, leading to inevitably poor life decisions. As Conan O’Brien once said: “The class clown is killed in a motel shoot-out.” Smart alecks are different. There’s a lot of potential in every one of them. And there’s a lot of potential in Rafe. As his efforts to break every rule in his new school’s handbook progress, Patterson and Tebbetts illuminate the psyche of a scared, angry kid who is smart, creative, bored and ever so over the “teach ’em what’s on the test” mentality the U.S. education system has so ruthlessly perfected. Rafe lashes out against an establishment that is designed against him and a shattered family unit, and it’s hard to push past his defense systems. But once through, readers will discover the best kind of child: one that is intelligent, artistic and brave. The authors weave these ideas through a world perfectly described through a 12-year-old’s point of view, complete with humor and jokes to be expected from that bracket. Witty illustrations and wacky scenarios will rope young readers in, but the emotional undercurrents will keep them hooked.
A satisfying and progressive tale with real sweetness at its center. (Fiction. 8-12)