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  • The Accidental Genius of Weasel High

    The Accidental Genius of Weasel High

    The critics say: For his debut novel the creator of the long-running comic strip One Big Happy dishes up a ninth-grader’s slice-of-life journal heavily interspersed with punch line–laden cartoons. Looking dismayed or bemused in nearly every picture, Larkin tallies “Ten Things That I Hate About Being 14” (he only gets to number five before losing interest); relates encounters with his tempestuous big sister and his relentlessly nonverbal friend Freddie; sees his preconceptions crushed when Brooke, his BFF and presumed girlfriend since third grade, hooks up with the most noxious bully at school; and suffers a temporary setback to his dream of becoming a big-time film producer when his performance in a local TV commercial ends up on the cutting-room floor. Despite such reverses, Larkin proves to be a resilient sort, gifted with both likable parents (who wouldn’t love to have a mom who brings a chainsaw and hockey mask to Career Day?) and a photographic memory when it comes to classic movies. An easygoing change of pace from the usual Sturm und Drang in preteen fiction. — John Peters, BOOKLIST

    Fourteen-year-old aspiring filmmaker Larkin Pace is documenting his daily life to prepare for the big screens of Hollywood. Before the cameras can get rolling on his masterpiece, though, Larkin must figure out how to keep his almost-girlfriend Brooke away from popular Dalton, how to keep his sister’s ever-increasing drama out of his life and how to get his hands on the perfect video camera despite a depleted bank account. Packing his tale full of adolescent wackiness and angst, cartoonist Detorie strikes an excellent balance among school issues, family drama and personal aspirations, capturing the total teen experience. Embodying the extreme teen emotional mood swing, Larkin’s sister Kelly will resonate with all those who have ever known a teenage diva. Well-placed and well-done black-and-white illustrations nicely further the story. No accidental work of genius, this- Detorie’s carefully crafted novel is an engaging experience. --KIRKUS

    Larkin Pace and his classmates must keep a weekly “notebook blog,” the results compiled in Detorie’s book, where Larkin rags on his parents, obsesses over his best friend Brooke, binges on film quotes (his dad is a film studies professor), and divulges his complicated scheme for becoming a Hollywood impresario by age 16. Detorie’s sketchy illustrations punctuate a story told with an easy, self-deprecating humor steeped in adolescent modernity without overdoing the slang and up-to-the-minute references. While many of Larkin’s nemeses are standard issue (annoying sister, omnipresent bully), his voice manages to be good-natured and assured without the addition of arrogance. --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

    Meet Larkin Pace. He hates his name. He doesn’t get along with his sister. His friend Freddie is really weird. He has a crush on his friend Brooke. Schoolyard bully Dalton Cooke is his nemesis. When he grows up, he wants to be a filmmaker. By his own definition, Larkin’s unique ability to memorize every line in every movie he’s ever seen makes him an “accidental genius.” The book is divided into several mini-chapters, as though Larkin were keeping a journal for a class. Spaced throughout these entries are amusing and sometimes poignant comic strips that illustrate the boy’s often-painful adolescence. Of note is Larkin’s unreciprocated crush on Brooke and his burgeoning friendship with an elderly neighbor for whom he does chores, charming Miss Sadie. Larkin serves as a relatable “everykid,” and many readers will enjoy spending some time with him. Marketed as “a book for the Wimpy Kid who has grown up,” it will nevertheless appeal both to tweens and young adults.–Ryan Donovan, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

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