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The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger Hardcover – June 4, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Fifth-grader Louie Burger is a would-be comedian with a bad case of stage fright. He has a great repertoire of funny jokes that he can only perform in front of a pretend audience on a stage he and his dad built inside his closet. Louie's best friend for years has been his neighbor, Nick Yamashita. Recently Nick has become friends with a girl whose nickname is Thermos. Although they try to include Louie in their activities, he is jealous and ends up being rude. Navigating this friendship issue is difficult, and Louie is not finding as much support as usual from his dad, who recently lost his job. When Louie feels overwhelmed, he writes and draws funny journal entries. With the fifth-grade talent show looming, he receives help in overcoming his stage fright from an unexpected source. At times the "barf" silliness becomes a distraction to the well-written story, but Meyerhoff does a good job of capturing the protagonist's voice, and readers will identify with Louie. Clever illustrations enhance the narrative. Give this one to those who enjoyed Lisa Yee's "Bobby" books (Scholastic) or Lenore Look's "Alvin Ho" series (Random), and to reluctant readers.-Tina Martin, Arlington Heights Memorial Library, ILα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Meyerhoff’s latest middle-grade novel is narrated by an aspiring stand-up comedian with a long way to go before the big time. Louie Burger is just starting fifth grade and has performed his routine for no one but the stuffed animals in his closet. It’s a big closet, though, complete with a stage built by his encouraging dad, but Louie still feels pressure to test his jokes on an actual audience. As he decides whether to perform in the school talent show, he has other worries, too: his best friend’s new friendship with a girl named Thermos, the frequent taunts of a more athletic classmate, and the shifting dynamics at home now that his dad is pursuing his lifelong dream of being an artist. Striking a nice balance between Louie’s home and school lives, Meyerhoff makes Louie a sympathetic figure. He tries hard at many things beyond his repertoire of jokes, including being patient with his younger, rather eccentric sister. Week’s capital-Z zany illustrations are plentiful and, like Louie, quite comical. Grades 3-6. --Abby Nolan
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I enjoyed (pages 143-144) reading about Louie and the teacher, Mrs. Adler, and "stage fright". Then she says: "I first started teaching and felt nervous about getting up front of my class." When I was a math professor, the first day each time, I was nervous and I was fine after that. (I think I told you that I had a brain tumor in 3/1/2003 and I am 68 years old.)
On page 203, Louie finally throwing up was a CLASSIC!:
"Houston, we have a problem.
Fluffernutter soup. It's not a pretty sight."
I couldn't get the joke Barf! at first (Barftastic). Boy, am I slow, or what.
Finally, there was something neat about a large word.
I remember "Antidisestablishmentarianism" (28 letters), but, of course, I can't say it.
["Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" (34 letters) from Mary Poppins, but that doesn't count.]
And then it says there is a longest word in a major dictionary: "Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" (45 letters)!
And finally, on page 110, it says:
"The Real Longest Word Ever
It has 1,913 letters. Anyone who can say it ten times fast wins a free puppy.
(Louie actually wrote the one word! And I love the free puppy part!) But then I checked some sources about the letters, and they say it is 1,909 letters. Is the letter count wrong, or just funny, or what? (Does that matter? Of course not.) [See: Bart Simpson cartoon, etc. http://as10.org/longest-english-word.html]
Of course, I'll get "Class B.U.R.P." Jenny Meyerhoff (the author), keep'm coming, Kid! [Way more than 5 stars! Maybe even more than SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS!]
Fear is an emotion we all have felt and can relate to. What is also attractive is the sense of humor (it's very believable for a fifth grade boy). The illustrations also match the narrative.
This is a great book for the entire family to read, even those with girls.
I absolutely fell in love with this book. I have stage fright so it was an instant connection to Louie. I'm a fan of comedy as well, so it was fun seeing his different jokes when he actually performed (mostly on his own). I love his two sisters as well. Ruby is a bit weird herself, like Louie and is obsessed with unicorns. I found her and her relationship with Louie adorable and heartwarming. Ari is the typical teenage girl, but still shows some love for her siblings and I loved her attitude and interactions with her family.
Then there's the relationship between Louie and Nick. Nick seems to have changed after going to summer camp, including having a new friend in Thermos, a girl who loves sports. Louie feels defensive about his relationship with Nick, thinking he has been replaced and making some poor choices in regards to Thermos. I loved seeing how things became resolved at the end of the book and what ultimately brought them all together.
Final Verdict: I read an ARC of this book, but there were some great illustrations included even in that version were really stunning and brought the story to life. A great book for elementary and middle grade readers that has a heartwarming message.