The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar.

It was tense.

This opens the first of 32 chapters and they all start with one of Billy Plimpton’s one liners. He’s an 11-year-old soon to be 12 and he desperately wants to be normal by not stuttering any more.

Recently, I reviewed another book about a boy who stutters in THE SWAG IS IN THE SOCKS. In that story it was more of a character trait being dealt with by the appealing Xavier Moon.

In THE BOY WHO MADE EVERYONE LAUGH the central theme is how terrible stuttering can be for a middle school kid who just wants to tell jokes without messing up the punch line with his stutters.

Yes, Billy also made me laugh. His first person narration is very honest and the voice shines in every chapter. The authors inspiration came from her own son who has a stutter.

Billy’s first plan is to keep quiet at his new school so no one will notice he’s different. Despite hiding during lunch his silence doesn’t last long. Eventually an inspirational teacher, Mr. Osho, becomes a mentor. But there is also a bully who mocks and teases Billy about his difficulty talking.

The dream to become a comedian on stage in front of an audience soon ends. Billy thinks it would be a disaster even though he promised his Grandma he was going to do it for the talent show. Instead he becomes a drummer in a band so he can keep quiet. In the end Billy truly finds a way to not let his stutter define the person he will become.

The heartwarming and inspirational ending will have you smiling and maybe even letting out a cheer.

Highly recommended.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: August 3, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 256

Five More Things to Like About: THE BOY WHO MADE EVERYONE LAUGH by Helen Rutter

  1. There are few books on the middle grade shelves that have speech problems as the focus. The story will help those with a speech impediment see another side to their situation.
  2. Billy’s relationship with his grandmother is no joke even though she loves hearing his jokes. It’s a loving bond between two generations that will remind readers how important grandparents can be.
  3. Friendship and family are front and center for Billy. Two parents doing everything for their son and a few school friends help pave a smoother road to acceptance.
  4. The humor and tears in the story provide a nice balance. Billy’s jokes and imitations will leave you smiling but the scene in the park when Billy screams “I don’t want to be Billy Plimpton.” will have you reaching for the tissue box.
  5. The author included stuttering resources in the back pages. Even better is the understanding non-stutterers will have of the inner turmoil one with a speech impediment goes through every waking moment.


Helen lives in the countryside just outside Sheffield with her comedian husband, two children and two lovely dogs, Ronnie and Billy Whizz. When she is not tapping away in her writing room, she loves walking the dogs, playing board games and reading. (For more visit Helen Ruttter’s author web site)


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. This sounds like a fantastic story that kids who stutter will especially relate too. Thanks for sharing it this week.

  2. This sounds like a great book for anyone. Kids who stutter might feel empowered, kids who don’t might develop empathy toward to who do stutter. I’ll have to find this and The Swag is in the Socks next time I’m in the library. Thanks for sharing about this important topic.

  3. Sounds a fantastic book, thanks for the review

  4. I’m also looking forward to Tandon’s The Way I Say It, with a character who can’ vocalize his “R” sounds. It always worries me so when we see students who still have trouble in middle school. Interesting that we now have two books on stuttering, three is you include Frazier’s Mighty Inside!

  5. Sue Heavenrich says:

    Sounds like a fantastic story. So good, that I just put it on hold at the library! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    It’s wonderful to see more representation of kids who stutter! I’ve been a little surprised by just how many books are coming out with that as an element—the two you mention, the one Ms. Yingling mentions, one I’ve seen reviewed called Say It Out Loud, and a picture book called I Talk Like a River (which won the Schneider back in January). Billy’s love of comedy and connection to his grandmother both make this book sound even better! Thanks so much for the wonderful review, Greg!

  7. I am over the moon seeing more books being release on the MG level about speech/stuttering problems. There have been so very few in past years in PB and MG novels. Seemed like The Paper Boy was one of the few for a long time. This sounds excellent. Thanks so much for finding this gem!

  8. This went right on the top of my TBR list. It sounds so, so good. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  9. Pingback: THE WAY I SAY IT | Always in the Middle…

  10. Pingback: A 5-way Double Giveaway | Always in the Middle…

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