Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Happy Kid! - Gail Gauthier

I've had a copy of Gail Gauthier's Happy Kid! sitting on my TBR for a little while (thanks to Jen Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page who kindly loaned me her ARC), but have been busy trying to read my way through the entire output of Susan Cooper and Penelope Lively (or such of it as I can get my hands on), but so many people nominated it as one of their Books of 2006 at MotherReader's Blog, that I decided to move it off the pile and into my hands ! I'm glad that I did as it's a terrific story !

To Kyle Rideau, Bert P. Trotts Middle School is "the gateway to hell." He just wants is to get through seventh grade without being noticed since he's infamous for an incident involving a screwdriver on the school bus at the end of his sixth grade year, an incident that got blown way out of proportion by the school administration and the local media. In addition, he's taking accelerated classes for English and Social Studies (but believes this to be a mistake) and he has lost contact with all of his friends. Then the night before the new school year starts, his mother gives him a book to help him counteract his negativity, claiming that Happy Kid: A Young Person's Guide to Satisfying Relationships and a Happy and Meaning-filled Life just screamed his name to her when she saw it. Kyle is absolutely horrified that his own mother (who is a counsellor) believes he needs a self-help book and agrees only reluctantly to read it when she promises to pay him a dollar for every chapter. However, the book seems to have a plan of its own and falls open to the chapters that are most pertinent to the different situations that Kyle finds himself in, although sometimes the chapter offers advice that makes his life more complicated.

Gauthier's rapid-fire humour, one-liners and sharp ear for dialogue make this a quick and funny read that's very hard to put down. Kyle is a fairly self-absorbed pre-teen at the start of the book, but he's still likeable - I even felt sorry for him a few times when he found himself in a tough situation and the book seemed to be giving him less-than-helpful advice. If you haven't read this book yet, do find a copy - it's definitely one of the best books I've read this year !

(Happy Kid! is, of course, available in the US as well !)


Kelly said...

I'm glad you liked it, Michele! It's a fun one. Gail has a great sense of humor.

Michele said...

I concur ! I've added the book to my Amazon wishlist - and the number of non-fantasy titles I buy is incredibly small, so that's a huge compliment !

Camille said...

I think Happy Kid is terrific. I nominated it for the Texas Lonestar list...have no idea how that process works but maybe it will get looked at.

Michele said...

I've now loaned it to one of my workmates, whom I occasionally ply with children's books - I'm hoping she will also enjoy it !