Booklist (October 15, 2012 (Vol. 109, No. 4))
Grades 4-7. Built around the notion of a middle-grade stand-up comedian who delivers jokes sitting down because he is confined to a wheelchair, this tale is written as an extended monologue in which Jamie Grimm (get it?) introduces loyal school friends, his mostly loving adoptive family, and Stevie—his new brother, who is also a vicious bully both online and in person—then proceeds to savage them all indiscriminately from a talent-contest stage. Playing readers’ heartstrings like a banjo, Patterson and Grabenstein also chuck in two girlfriends and a first kiss, hints of a family tragedy strung out until near the end, an uplifting spontaneous routine delivered to the patients of a children’s rehab center, and, both in the narrative and in the line drawings on almost every page, dozens of gags both classic (Do zombies eat doughnuts with their fingers? No. They usually eat their fingers separately) and not so much (When kids in Grossville say, ‘Mommy, can I lick the bowl?’ their mothers say, ‘Be quiet, dear, and just flush’). In all, a brimming bucket of ba-da-bing! that hardly needs a celebrity author to crank up the audience numbers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Patterson’s full-court press to capture the attention of every market in the reading public continues—and 25 million books sold for young readers proves it’s working.