Book Review: My Life as a Stuntboy

My Life as a Stuntboy by Janet Tashjian.  2011. (Grades 4-7)

Derek Fallon, from My Life as a Book, is back in a new book and a new school year.  Derek isn’t really a fan of school.  He says, “The first day of school is always the worst day of the year.  It’s like a crazy surgeon throws you on an operating table and removes a major organ from your chest called summer.  He doesn’t realize how much a kid needs that organ, as much as a liver or a spleen.”  But things aren’t all bad for Derek.  He has his pet monkey and his best friend Matt.  So what if he has a little trouble reading.  He would rather spend his time climbing, jumping, and running around obstacles with Matt than read or do his homework any day of the week–no matter what his parents say.

Derek is as surprised as anyone else when a real Hollywood stuntman sees the boys practicing their stunts and wants to hire Derek to be a stuntboy on his new film.  Once he gets over his shock and convinces his parents to let him do the movie, Derek is psyched to finally find something he can succeed at after struggling for so long with school.  The only problem is Matt. Ever since Derek took the stuntboy job, things have been weird between the boys, and Derek isn’t sure why.  Shouldn’t his best friend be happy for him?  When Matt starts hanging out with new friends and posts an embarrassing video of Derek on YouTube, Derek is sure his life can’t get any worse.

Readers who know Derek from My Life as a Book will not want to miss his new adventure, but this story does stand alone so readers can jump in to the fun of My Life as a Stuntboy without feeling like they are missing anything. Teachers will appreciate the vocabulary word cartoons drawn by the author’s son that line the margins of most of the pages.  The cartoons may help draw readers in, but they will also help them to decipher and remember the meanings of words along with Derek. Perhaps they will be inspired by Derek to use their talents in a unique way to help them succeed in school!


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