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DON’T CALL ME ISHMAEL by Michael Gerard Bauer


by Michael Gerard Bauer

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-06-134834-1
Publisher: Greenwillow Books

With a name like Ishmael Leseur, one can imagine the amount of teasing the 14-year-old endures. His response is to try to make himself invisible so he can lessen the amount of sadistic bullying for which he’s the target. Then along comes a strange new classmate—James Scobie, who is exceedingly bright yet frail. Ishmael ashamedly rejoices in the thought that he’ll no longer be the number-one target now that the slightly offbeat James has arrived. Via brief, first-person chapters with funny titles, Bauer tells the tale of the developing friendship between James and Ishmael with great humor and sympathy, and he treats the familiar subject of bullying in a truthful way. James faces up to his persecutors without fear because, readers learn, he had a brain tumor removed—and what could be more frightening than that? While Ishmael and James are never totally free of bullies, the techniques they adopt are believable ones and eventually achieve the desired results. A brief scare concerning James’s health allows Ishmael to finally stand up for himself and his friends. Bauer is a genius with similes and non-groan-worthy puns, resulting in an extremely amusing story. The combination of insults about Melville, great characters, humor, intelligence and the honest portrayal of bullying makes for a fantastic, all-encompassing read. (Fiction. 11-15)