Reviews for Barftastic Life of Louie Burger

Booklist Reviews 2013 September #2
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. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
In this mildly funny story about a klutzy fifth-grade boy, Louie wants to be a stand-up comedian, but he has stage fright. Also, his best friend comes back from camp with a new friend (who's a girl!); his father is having a mid-life crisis; and his sisters are driving him crazy. Some gross-out humor and cartoon illustrations will draw in the intended audience.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 April #1
In a debut that would be more appropriately titled Stand-Up Chuck, Meyerhoff saddles a fifth-grade would-be comedian with both severe stage fright and a new classmate who comes between him and his best friend. Having introduced a full-page glossary of vomit vocabulary, from "barfcredible" to "barftrocious," Louie then relentlessly draws on it to describe his life. He focuses on the stand-up routine, which he's been practicing for two years ("you can't rush comedy") but can't face performing before a live audience, and his longtime friendship (as the self-billed "Barf Brothers") with Nick Yamashita. This is suddenly complicated by Theodora, a jock who refuses to wear girl clothes unless forced to and insists on being called "Thermos." Tucking in family stresses and the currently requisite bully issues, the author guides her protagonist past Nick's actual gastric gusher in class to a climactic talent-show triumph that is cut short by one of his own. His wild delight at discovering that his little sister had filmed the latter spew and sent it to a TV show ends the tale on an up-tempo, if counterintuitive, strain. Week's fluid ink-and-wash illustrations reflect the light tone without depicting any of the gross bits. A gusher of half-digested elements and overchewed laffs, more reminiscent of the late, unlamented Barf-O-Rama series than similarly premised novels like Gordon Korman's Maxx Comedy (2003) or James Patterson's I Funny (2012). (Fiction. 9-11) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 May #1

Louie dreams of doing standup comedy, and he gives it his all when he's alone on the stage he and his father built in his oversize bedroom closet. But he's also upfront about his fear of performing: "What's the deal with stage fright?" he asks, Seinfeld-style. "It's not like the stage is going to bite me or give me a wedgie. It would make more sense to have audience fright. Actually, I have that, too." In addition to the fifth-grader's anxiety about participating in the school talent show, Louie feels abandoned both by his best friend and by his recently unemployed father, who becomes depressed when his artistic aspirations don't pan out. Though "barf" is a cornerstone of Louie's vocabulary (sports are "barfgusting," Fluffer-nutters are "barfmazing"), Meyerhoff (Sami's Sleepaway Summer) deals with peer relationships, family cohesiveness, and finding the courage to follow one's dreams--amid the rampant bodily humor. Week's energetic comics-style cartoons ramp up the story's slapstick comedy, whether demonstrating Louie's "Barf Brothers" secret handshake or his major faceplant during gym glass. Ages 8-12. Author's agent: Jennifer Mattson, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (June)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 June

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, IL

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