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Happy Kid! Paperback – 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (2005)
  • ASIN: B002CLGRZM
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Gail Gauthier is the author of eight books, including "The Hero of Ticonderoga," an ALA Notable Book, and the two volumes of the "Hannah and Brandon Stories" series, "A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat," and "A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers," which were both selected as Junior Library Guild offerings. Her books have been nominated for readers' choice awards in six states, and published in foreign editions in Italy, Germany, France, and Japan. She has spoken in schools in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, as well as at professional conferences for teachers, librarians, and writers. Her essays have appeared at "The Millions," "Literary Mama," and "The Horn Book," and her short fiction has been published by "Alimentum." She maintains the weblog "Original Content," where she writes about children's literature and writing, as well as time management for writers. She is an active member of the Kidlitosphere and has served as a judge for the Cybils, the children's and young adult bloggers' literary awards. Her novel "Saving the Planet & Stuff" has been re-released as an eBook.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By LonestarReader on May 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Gail Gauthier has perfectly captured the academic, mental and emotional state of that no-man's land we call Junior High in her new book, Happy Kid! I love this book; I am going to nominate it for the Texas Lonestar List.

Kyle is an average kid just trying to survive at Bert P. Trotts "the gateway to Hell" Middle School. During the previous year, Kyle was accused of bringing a weapon on the bus as a result of his tech ed. school project. His innocence was established but the fallout over the incident carries over into the new school year.

In an effort to help him improve his attitude and get him off on the right foot, his mother purchases a self-help book for him, Happy Kid: a Young Person's Guide to Satisfying Relationships and a Happy Meaning-filled Life!

Kyle is mortified but accepts his mom's offer to pay him a dollar for every chapter he reads. Kyle finds that the book mysteriously keeps opening to the same chapter and only changes once that chapter's issue has been dealt with in his life. How does the book seem to always know what help he needs?

Gauthier has perfectly recreated the environment of high-stakes state student assessment testing. Here they are called (wonderfully) the SSASies. I chuckled as teachers pass out SSASie review sheets, in every class, on the first day of school. As one student says, "The schools are being tested but we are taking the tests?"

She has also accurately captured the strange social world and tension that develops between "A" students (honors/advanced), the regular kids, and the small, scary underclass of soon-to-be-criminals. Finding the right-place-to-sit at lunch the first day of school IS a real crisis, and having the campus bully think you are one of his posse is serious.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Robinson on August 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I found Happy Kid! to be a quick read, with realistic middle school interactions and experiences. At the same time, I found it to be a remarkable book, incorporating universal truths about self-help and relationships in a kid-friendly, non-preachy manner.

Happy Kid! is about Kyle Rideau, a pessimistic and inadvertently notorious boy about to start seventh grade. He's had a rough sixth grade year, feels separated from all of his friends (due to having been placed in some 'special' (advanced) classes, and he ended the year with a distressing incident. He's not looking forward to seventh grade. His psychologist mother buys him a self-help book called "Happy Kid! A Young Person's Guide to Satisfying Relationships and a Happy and Meaning-Filled Life." He is naturally embarrassed by this, but she offers to pay him a dollar per chapter, and the chapters are very short. So, in a weak moment, he starts to read it. Kyle finds himself strangely compelled to follow the advice in the book, and experiences unintended consequences (unintended by Kyle, anyway) in response.

Kyle soon notices some curious facts about the book. First of all, the chapters that he reads bear an uncanny relevance to whatever is going on in his life. Second, until he acts on a piece of advice in some way, the book will only open to that page, and not allow him to move forward. At one point, a girl in his class reads from the book, and finds that it offers her completely different advice, specific to her needs. Although these are rather unexpected attributes to find in a book, Kyle takes it more or less in stride. And gradually, the book does help him to improve his life and relationships.

There's a lot of subtle humor to this book. I can relate to Kyle's wry, pessimistic voice.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read this book before handing it to my soon-to-be middle schooler. It encourages and reinforces the benefits of positive social skills such as saying hello, thinking positively, finding a hobby and helping others. It's also a good story that moves along at a good clip with a variety of distinctive but realistic characters including honors students, average students, school bully, parents, a grandmother, teachers, the principal. I was afraid it was going to be a story about someone plagued by a bully, in fact one of the subplots is the problem that the bully befriends the lead character, and the lead has to avoid offending him while not succumbing to that lifestyle. A great "make your own choices" story. And a great "the power of positive thinking and steping outside your comfort zone" story.
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