By Janet Tashjian
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, $13.99, 256 pages
Derek has normal kid problems…book reports, unfathomable girls, a pet that keeps getting into trouble (OK, the pet is a monkey). Then he unexpectedly ends up with a job as a stuntboy in a movie. Add that and you can spell his life C-R-A-Z-Y. My Life as a Stuntboy is told by Derek in the first person and is illustrated with kid-style doodles in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid style. It is a fast paced book with several storylines happening at once: stunt job problems, school problems, monkey problems, friend problems. The story careens from one plotline to another and sometimes the different problems run into each other. This unpredictability is enough to encourage young people to keep reading.
While so many books told by young narrators veer into rudeness when the characters think/interact with adults, My Life as a Stuntboy strikes just the right balance. Derek does a lot of complaining and tries to get out of things but stops short of the snarky attitude in many similar books. My Life as a Stuntboy focuses on the laughs without the rude comebacks.
Reviewed by Jodi M. Webb