In a debut that would be more appropriately titled Stand-Up Chuck, Meyerhoff saddles a fifth-grade would-be comedian with both severe stage fright and a new classmate who comes between him and his best friend.
Having introduced a full-page glossary of vomit vocabulary, from “barfcredible” to “barftrocious,” Louie then relentlessly draws on it to describe his life. He focuses on the stand-up routine, which he’s been practicing for two years (“you can’t rush comedy”) but can’t face performing before a live audience, and his longtime friendship (as the self-billed “Barf Brothers”) with Nick Yamashita. This is suddenly complicated by Theodora, a jock who refuses to wear girl clothes unless forced to and insists on being called “Thermos.” Tucking in family stresses and the currently requisite bully issues, the author guides her protagonist past Nick’s actual gastric gusher in class to a climactic talent-show triumph that is cut short by one of his own. His wild delight at discovering that his little sister had filmed the latter spew and sent it to a TV show ends the tale on an up-tempo, if counterintuitive, strain. Week’s fluid ink-and-wash illustrations reflect the light tone without depicting any of the gross bits.
A gusher of half-digested elements and overchewed laffs, more reminiscent of the late, unlamented Barf-O-Rama series than similarly premised novels like Gordon Korman’s Maxx Comedy (2003) or James Patterson’s I Funny (2012). (Fiction. 9-11)