Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Jamie Grimm wants to be a stand up comic. Too bad he’s always sitting–in a wheelchair. (Don’t blame me, that’s one of Jamie’s jokes.) But his beloved Uncle Frankie and his two best friends keep encouraging him and one day he finds himself competing to be the funniest kid on Long Island. What I liked about this book, in addition to Jamie being someone you can really root for, is that Patterson and Grabenstein actually get into Jamie’s backstory. At first I thought they were going to just mention it in passing – that he was in a car accident recently that is the reason he is in a wheelchair and lives with his aunt’s family – but they really get into what happened and how Jamie covers it up sometimes with humor. “Cool Girl” (whose name I hope gets revealed in one of the other books in the series; it bugs me that we don’t find out her name) does a great job with forcing Jamie to be serious at times, though she also appreciates his humor. I was a little surprised to see that nothing much is made of the bullying and harm done to him by his cousin, and I was curious to know why he wasn’t allowed to live with his Uncle Frankie – but I hope those issues might be tackled in the other books. This would be good for a kid who likes Captain Underpants and other silly books but are a little older and starting to be more empathetic (or need a little shove in that direction).