My Life as a Book--Janet Tashjian
July 2010 by Henry Holt and Co.
Summer’s finally here, and Derek Fallon is looking forward to pelting the UPS truck with water balloons, climbing onto the garage roof, and conducting silly investigations. But when his parents decide to send him to Learning Camp, Derek’s dreams of fun come to an end. Ever since he’s been labeled a “reluctant reader,” his mom has pushed him to read “real” books—something other than his beloved Calvin & Hobbes.
As Derek forges unexpected friendships and uncovers a family secret involving himself (in diapers! no less), he realizes that adventures and surprises are around the corner, complete with curve balls.
I bought this book having little idea what it was about, but it looked fun and only cost a dollar. I ended up really liking it. Derek gets himself into all sorts of Calvin-and-Hobbes-esque trouble, ending up on the roof with croquet mallets at one point. I loved his huge imagination. He throws snark in the blatant attempts of parents and teachers to force him to learn.
The doodles on the side of the pages were fun. I didn't know until finishing the book that the illustrations were done by the author's teen-aged son.
The book gets a bit sappy at the end. It just wraps up too tidily and rosy-eyed. The book blends together Derek's summer antics and the serious side-story of a young woman who drowned. This combination is a bit tricky, and their meshing bugged me; the two stories felt a bit incongruous. However, that is not enough to keep me from wanting to read the sequel. I think middle school kids would get a kick out of the book, especially fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It is clever and it is fun, even if the ending is a bit bland.