In this satisfying stand-alone companion to My Life as a Book (2010), 12-year-old Derek Fallon thinks landing a job as stuntboy for megastar Tanya Billings must be as good as it gets.
After all, the infamously reluctant reader had finally found his niche! The plot, however, thickens: “This morning I was on a movie set doing stunts, talking to a movie star. By the end of the day, my best friend’s making fun of me, I have a homework tutor, and my mother’s going to cut open my adopted monkey to retrieve my horse. How do these things happen?” As Derek’s well-meaning parents tirelessly engage in what sound like rehearsed “teacher moments,” their son realistically vacillates between self-doubt and boyish bravado—all in a dry, funny first-person voice. Derek’s Yoda-like parkour/stunt coach Tony also has many life lessons for the stuntboy, such as “Parkour is about making your way around obstacles.” The family’s foster capuchin monkey Frank provides a hairy subplot, as does Derek’s nagging worry about losing his best friend Matt, suddenly jealous about Derek’s newfound fame. The generous margins are filled with Derek’s often quite clever stick-figure cartoons illustrating vocabulary words such as “flabbergasted” and “camouflage”—all rendered by the author’s teenage son.
Another fun, emotionally resonant read for the Wimpy Kid set and beyond. (Fiction. 9-14)