Hear from one of our passionate book club members!
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. And in Helen Rutter's novel The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh, when life gives you a stammer, you throw it back at life and live your own way. 11-year-old aspiring comedian Billy Plimpton has had a stammer for many years and he has always thought that this would stop him from chasing his lifelong dream of becoming a comedian.
In this fun-filled story about coping with differences, Billy writes in his diary about his life starting out at a new school, and how much he hopes to hide his stammer to fit in with everyone else. However, things take a turn for the worse when his teacher decides to have a show-and-tell day. As you would expect, Billy is terrified. He came here to fit in, not to stand out even more, amongst all of the new people secondary school can bring! He spends his entire weekend trying to get out of it, even running away! In the end, he finally decided he would do it. And so that is how Billy gets a taste of what I call: when something good happens to you, someone will be there to ruin it. And, who is the person who ruins it by terrorizing poor Billy? Well, it's none other than the class bully. Every chance he gets, the class bully makes fun of Billy’s stammer. This is how he makes Billy sign up for the talent show. All is looking down for Billy. What could possibly make this any worse?
I like The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh because it is not only written in a way that makes you feel like you are there, but it also uses my favorite way of doing this: writing in the first person! I absolutely love stories told in the first person point of view and although books don’t necessarily have to use this, it is something for authors to consider when planning their stories. Another thing is the fact that you can almost imagine yourself being Billy. This is not only because the book is written in the first person, as mentioned above, it is also because of how highly relatable this story is.
I also wonder how authors write books. In this case, did Helen Rutter go back in time to her childhood to remember details of similar experiences that she may have had? Did she imagine how Billy must have felt? Or did she observe her son, who is the inspiration for this book? I doubt many of us remember many of the things that Billy describes, it’s amazing. The amount of detail authors inject into their stories when they are passionate about the subject matter blows my mind.
People in secondary school will remember the first time they entered, wondering what will happen to them. Maybe you even had the misfortune as our Billy did of being in a new school altogether! But nonetheless, we all had a goal for ourselves when we started. Maybe you wanted to be the award winner in a competition. Maybe you wanted to be the athlete. Maybe you even wanted to be the class clown. As I have already said, Billy is an aspiring comedian. Usually, the first step for a child comedian is to be class clown. It isn’t rocket science, is it?
This book is relatable to both younger readers and teenagers. There are many younger references as well. These include video games, shopping marts, and that feeling of wanting to run away from home (the one that we always ignore). What I am trying to say is, this book suits just about anyone from 7 to 13 years of age.
Ved Varma is a Year 6 student of Deira International School. He has liked reading since he was 3 years old and has participated in 2 Chevron Reader’s Cups and made the finals once.