January 23, 2007

Happy With a Smiley!

I love the cover of this novel so much, and the fact that the title has an exclamation point! That, to me, signals wryness and a fine edge of sarcasm and snark, which are three of my favorite things to find in a novel. Gail Gauthier's Happy Kid! doesn't disappoint.

Kyle has a tiny problem with negativity -- or so his mother thinks. It all started the time a little incident with the bus and a screwdriver got all blown out of proportion -- in front of everybody -- and things just got worse when Kyle was accidentally placed in accelerated classes, and lost all of his friends. Kyle just wants to make it through school without anyone looking at him, but his mother -- a counselor -- feels like there's more to life than just waiting for the sky to fall. She very annoyingly requests that he reads Happy Kid: A Young Person's Guide to Satisfying Relationships and a Happy and Meaning-filled Life, claiming the book just screamed his name when she saw it -- in a discount store. Only when she offers to pay him does Kyle break down and decide to read the book. But the book has ideas of its own... it won't let him read forward until he follows its advice. And the book's advice lands Kyle in some situations that only grow worse.

Its fast-paced zingers, great dialogue and truisms of the daily woes of middle school will make this book a favorite, and leave you smiling.

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