From School Library Journal
Grade 7–10—Staunton updates readers on the life of Sam Foster, a boy introduced in Hope Springs a Leak
(2002) and Sounding Off
(2004, both Red Deer). Now 16, he longs to be considered mature and responsible by his parents but keeps missing that elusive goal. Everything goes wrong with his plans, starting with the first assignment in Family Studies, which is watching a mechanical baby that cries at regular intervals. But Sam's band, ADHD, has a big gig in Toronto. Things go awry and the baby is short-circuited due to a leak in the ceiling. Instead of a failing grade, Sam receives an assignment for more volunteer hours due to his father's intervention. Adding spice to Sam's life are his girlfriend, Martha, an anarchist who gets him involved in a boat race that is sponsored by a local sex shop, and J. Earl, the local, colorful author who takes Sam on a road trip that he'll never forget. In addition to Sam's hilarious escapades, there is some real substance and character growth to be found in this fast-paced coming-of-age novel.—Patty Saidenberg, George Jackson Academy, New York City
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Sam Foster, a normal teenager and drummer in the band ADHD, has maturity as his latest goal. Achieving this goal will put him well on the way to a parent-free weekend over spring break and getting his learner’s permit. But as with most teenagers, circumstances have a way of preventing even the most enthusiastic teen from success.
In school, Sam chooses Family Studies to achieve an easy pass, and then finds himself babysitting a Kinder 4000 Infant Simulator baby doll for his must-pass assignment. The baby is to be cared for day and night, no matter what. This leads to complications when Sam’s band ADHD has to play in a competition at Club Rockit. When Sam fails his task, he has to suffer the consequences, being the percussionist for the play The Amazings and working at the local library. Sam has a way of attracting problems, and with his anarchistic, rule-breaking girlfriend, Martha, at his side, Sam slips further away from an adult-free, junk-food eating, DVD-watching weekend with his friend Darryl.
Staunton has written a fast-paced coming-of-age novel that flows well. Teens will easily identify with the main characters and the hilarious antics that take place as he achieves maturity. There is mention of the effects of drinking alcohol and references to drug taking, but it is within the context of the story. Although it is part of the Hope Springs series, this novel could be read as a stand-alone book.
—Amanda McFadden. V
Sam, age 15, struggles to be “mature” in this engaging comedy. He lives in a small Canadian town where everyone knows everyone else, but Sam will soon learn that even small-town scrutiny can overlook little quirks. Everything goes wrong with Sam’s plans, starting when he’s assigned to “mother” a mechanical baby doll that cries at the drop of a hat and must find a way to play drums for the most important gig his band ever has booked while also trying to comfort the doll. No matter how mature he tries to be, Sam keeps getting into more and more trouble. Filled with such colorful secondary characters as the middle-aged couple who open a sex shop, Sam’s dangerously rebellious girlfriend, Martha, and the famous writer who keeps Sam at his beck and call, the story gallops along with disaster after disaster for the hapless Sam, who tries so hard to do his best. While maturity may remain elusive for Sam, readers won’t have any trouble finding laughs in this sly, wining tale. Chuckles galore. (Fiction. 14 & up)