(Image from Barnes & Noble)
(Note: Although this review will not contain spoilers for My Life as a Joke, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from earlier My Life as ... installments. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)
Now that Derek Fallon has reached the ripe old age of twelve, it's time for him to grow up. He even makes a New Year's resolution to take life more seriously. And he's really, really trying to achieve that goal. So why is everything going so horrifyingly wrong? Fate is clearly conspiring against him to make him look like a baby. First, his volunteering efforts have him collecting dolls (of all things!); then, like a total wimp, he faints while dissecting a frog in science class; a fall from the climbing rope results in a fat lip and an embarrassing lisp; and then the rocking party he plans ... well, it's enough to make an almost-adult go running straight to his mommy. Can Derek survive all the humiliation the universe is throwing in his face? If his life is one big joke, how will he ever learn to take it seriously?
With the help of his friends, his pet monkey, and support from an unlikely source, Derek just might make it through (relatively) unscathed. In fact, he'll learn some very valuable lessons about honesty, priorities, friendship, and being true to himself.
I haven't read every book in Janet Tashjian's heartfelt series starring Derek Fallon, but I've thoroughly enjoyed the two that I have. Derek is a very authentic character, someone to whom young readers will no doubt relate. He's funny, self-deprecating, and very likable. My Life as a Joke, the fourth book in the series, is an easy, entertaining read enhanced by fun illustrations created by Jake Tashjian, the author's son. Hand these books to Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans—they'll love this "kinder, gentler" series. I sure do.
(Readalikes: Other books in the series, including My Life as a Book; My Life as a Stuntboy; My Life as a Cartoonist; and My Life as a Gamer)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
To the FTC, with love: I borrowed a copy of My Life as a Joke from the library at my kids' elementary school.