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.
BOOK BIRTHDAY: August 3, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 256
Five More Things to Like About: THE BOY WHO MADE EVERYONE LAUGH by Helen Rutter
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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)