THE BOY WHO MADE EVERYONE LAUGH, by Helen Rutter, Scholastic Inc., Aug. 3, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8-12)
A boy with a stutter learns how to navigate school and friendship in Helen Rutter’s middle-grade novel, The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh.
When life is funny, make some jokes about it.
Billy Plimpton has a big dream: to become a famous comedian when he grows up. He already knows a lot of jokes, but thinks he has one big problem standing in his way: his stutter.
At first, Billy thinks the best way to deal with this is to . . . never say a word. That way, the kids in his new school won’t hear him stammer. But soon he finds out this is NOT the best way to deal with things. (For one thing, it’s very hard to tell a joke without getting a word out.)
As Billy makes his way toward the spotlight, a lot of funny things (and some less funny things) happen to him. In the end, the whole school will know…
If you think you can hold Billy Plimpton back, be warned: The joke will soon be on you! —Synopsis provided by Scholastic Inc.
Everyone has something about them they’d like to hide, but for Billy, that’s near impossible. Sure, he tries — barely speaks at all, uses body language. But that only works for so long. After his secret is out, things go pretty much as expected, and then they don’t. As Billy opens up and takes risks, he gets a taste of friendship and freedom.
Billy is a great character. He’s smart, funny and flawed. Watching him evolve is a pure pleasure. Supporting characters add depth and perspective — by the end, Billy realizes he’s not the only one hiding things.
Author Helen Rutter’s writing is assured and easy. There’s a lightness to her prose that is comforting even in the darker moments.
Though readers may not have a stutter, they will easily identify with being the odd one out. Everything about The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh rings true. This is a great option for readers across the board.
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