The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh

(2 reviews with an average rating of 5 out of 5)

Publisher: Scholastic

Billy’s starting secondary school. It’s a different one from most of his primary school classmates, but that suits him just fine – Billy’s keen for a fresh start. He has a stammer, and he’s determined that it isn’t going to dictate how he is viewed at this new school. In fact he’s got a list of ways he plans to get rid of the stammer before anyone even notices it. One of the ideas has just got to work, so he can start pursuing his dream of being a stand-up comedian. But if they all fail, he will simply ditch the comedy and concentrate on something that avoids speaking in public. Because that’s the only option… right? 

This heart-warming book is inspired by the author’s own son who has a stammer. The protagonist is instantly likeable and his story rolls along at a merry pace. There’s the inevitable school bully to dodge and a ‘will he or won’t he’ storyline climaxing at the school talent show, along with plenty of intriguing and original characters making up the wider cast.  Mr Osho is that teacher we’d all love to have, running a lunchtime jazz club that starts out just being a safe haven for misfits but becomes the coolest place to hang out. 

Particularly powerful is the way Billy observes the different ways people react when they encounter someone who stammers. The narrative ably avoids being one-sided, alluding to different experiences of stammering and never suggesting there’s a miracle ‘cure’ or a one-size-fits-all strategy. The author also touches sensitively on bereavement and bullying and ensures plenty of humour, appropriately launching each new chapter with a joke.

An accessible and feel-good story, with an authentic voice.

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