Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Life as a Stuntboy

My Life as a Stuntboy by Janet Tashjian, ill. Jake Tashjian (NY: Henry Holt, 2011).

Twelve-year-old Derek Fallon is dreading the start of another school year. The only bright spot is that he and his best friend Matt are slated to have a male teacher. But then that falls through and they end up with their former kindergarten teacher, Ms. McCoddle, aka Ms. McCuddles! A chance encounter with a movie stuntman leads to Derek performing stunts for a new movie, and Derek thinks his life may be turning around.  Then Matt starts acting weird; Frank, his family's foster capuchin monkey, gets sick (and it's his fault); and Derek finds out he's doing stunts for a girl!  At least he gets out of school to do the stunts, and even if he has to have a tutor, that's better than sitting in class for a kid like Derek who has trouble concentrating.  Performing stunts, though, teaches Derek some valuable lessons about planning a course of action and concentrating on a task--skills he applies in ways he never dreamed of--like rescuing Frank!  

My Life as a Stuntboy is an excellent follow-up to My Life as a Book.  Once again, the clever stick figure drawings of vocabulary words are a highlight.  Reluctant readers in particular will relate to Derek's concentration problems, and all readers can learn from Derek's example of planning and executing a task--whether it's a skateboard stunt or a school project. Derek's problems with his best friend and his dealings with his parents, as well as his insights into the life of the star of the film, are well drawn and realistic. Overall, this is an super read, highly recommended for ages 8 and up.

1 comment:

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