Don’t Call Me Ishmael – Michael Gerard Bauer.

There’s no easy way to put this, so I’ll say it straight out. It’s time I faced up to the truth. I’m fourteen years old and I have Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome. There is no cure. And there is no instant cure to not fitting in. But that won’t stop Ishmael and his intrepid band of misfits from taking on bullies, bugs, babes, the Beatles, debating, and the great white whale in the toughest, the weirdest, the most embarrassingly awful…and the best year of their lives.

“One of the Beatles had just fallen out of my pants.
I was pretty sure it was Ringo.”

A conversation.  A heated debate.

Jo -So, I really enjoyed this book. It was full of colourful characters, hilarious dialogue and ridiculous (and fun!) situations, this book will definitely appeal to middle-grade readers. However I couldn’t help but think that there were some jokes that went on a bit longer than they should of. I imagine my face was similar to the face I pull when my granddad, my colourful colourful granddad, tells me his only-slightly offensive jokes.
I laugh loudly at first…. But then he collars me when I’m on my way to brew up and he tells it me again, with slightly different wording.
They’re still very charming but on occasion they wore a bit thin.
Interrupting Jo Who Understands That This Book Was Written For Readers Aged 8-12 – Pfft, like you know anything.
Jo – I…I’m sorry?
IJWKTTBWWFRAET Jo 2-Well… no disrespect, Jo, but you are not supposed to be reading this book.
Jo -I… um. But I’m a book reviewer?
Jo 2 – Mr Bauer didn’t write it for people like you.
Jo – Wait just one second. He didn’t write it for girls? Is that what you’re saying? Just because it’s set in an all-boys school and mentions footie and rugby and boobs. That’s pretty sexist and I-
Jo 2-No, you’re old.
Jo– What?
Jo 2– You’re old.
Jo– I’m 22!
Jo 2– This book was written for 8-12 year olds. You have 10 years on them. Therefore you are old.
Jo– I… uhm. Anyway, as I was saying, Ishmael is a fourteen year old boy who attends an all-boys school and a lot of humour stemmed from this. Now I went to an all-girls school so therefore missed the delight of boyish pranks. Like insects…
Jo 2- And arachnids.
Jo- *sigh* And arachnids in desks? *shudders*
I’m so glad all I had to deal with was bitchy pleasant girls who talked non-stop about boys, Hooch coats, how if you did your work you were a geek homework and Blazin’ Squad. I loved most of the characters too. Ishmael was a delight and his complaints about his name never got old. And that bit with the peg? I’m pretty sure my ‘man-laugh’ came out at that point.
Also, I had a lot of time for Mr Scobie (although I wish we’d had more time with you!), he was absolutely hilarious and a very sweet character.
Also a badass.
I really loved the connection between these boys and, even though a lot of the jokes went over my head, a lot of their banter really made me giggle. Some of the characters were a little grating, but I won’t go into that.
Jo 2- Wimp.
Jo– What?
Jo 2– “Some of the characters were grating”. You won’t go into that? I’ve read your past reviews. You love going into things like that. Go on, who “grated” on you?
Jo – Not that I have to explain myself to you but even though he was extremely charming and sometimes he was funny, I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Razzman. Like I said, I missed the part of watching boys stumble wildly through their pre-pubescent years but there were some things he said that just didn’t seem right. But “the website of luuuuuurve”… do boys talk like that? I don’t-
Jo 2–  Of course boys talk like that. Have you never heard them all yelling and chattering when you accidentally get on the bus that all the lads from the all-boys school get on
Jo – Umm… no not really. I tend to put my headphones in. Volume on loud. And make plans to book in some driving lessons.
Jo 2- Exactly! So what do you know about how boys talk?
Jo – Well… err, I guess, I don’t.
Jo 2– Exactly. I rest my case.
Jo – Um… where was I? Oh yeah, and this could be because I’ve never seen any of the Star Wars films or the Lord of the Rings, but a lot of the jokes in this book were SW and LotRs related. Maybe if I had seen them I would have found this book even more humorous.
Jo 2– But 8-12 year old boys have seen them and they love them and I actually caught you sniggering at a few of the jokes.
“Like a light sabre through butter”
You practically wet yourself.
Jo– I…um. Well that bit was funny. Shut up. Anyway, I also wished we’d spent more time with Ishmael and Kelly.
Jo 2– Ew.
Jo – What now?!?
Jo 2– Well, she’s a girl. 8-12 year old boys don’t want to read about girls and glittery unicorns and flying princesses…
Jo– There aren’t actually any glittery unicorns or flying princesses in this book…. unfortunately.
Jo 2- ….so why would they want to read a book with more chapters about girls when it’s not relevant to the story? Mr Bauer did a brilliant job in portraying the infatuation a 14 year old boy gets when he has a crush on a girl. It was sweet and it was cute and she likes him because he’s her superhero.
This book is about friendship, standing up for what is right and learning to be yourself, no matter who you are. It has a fantastic and accessible message which will have a lot of resonance with boys (and girls!) who have ever felt left out and how it is OK to be different.
Also, there were boob jokes.
Ugh, yeah go on. Let me hear what you have to say about that part. Climb up on your soapbox and let it all out about how it demeaned women and that jokes that objectify women are the lowest form of wit.
Jo – I think that’s sarcasm…
Jo 2-I bet you have loads to say about that boob jokes bit. That just has “Jo Disapproves of This and Everything” stamped all over it.
Jo – I actually loved that part. I thought it was written with a lot of humour but also gave us a greater insight on the characters. Especially Scobie. Not many writers could accomplish that but Mr Bauer did and he did so with flying colours.
And who doesn’t love a good boob joke?
Jo 2– No one.
Jo – Well there you go. Can I get back to my review now?
Jo 2– Whatever.
Jo– In conclusion, while there were some parts of this book that I didn’t completely love…
Jo 2– Because you’re twenty two… and a girl.
Jo – *sigh* … I would not hesitate in recommending it to anyone who is looking for a book to capture the attention their son/brother/nephew. It’s full of humour, great characters and hilarious situations that will have you sniggering here there and everywhere.


I received a copy of this book from the publishers.

Michael Gerard Bauer will be stopping at my blog tomorrow for an interview as part of Don’t Call Me Ishmael’s UK Book Tour! Be sure to come back and have a nosey!

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6 thoughts on “Don’t Call Me Ishmael – Michael Gerard Bauer.

  1. Loved this 'heated discussion'. Thought 'both' Jo's did a brilliant job although I must say I did find Jo 2 to be especially brilliant and perceptive. :) Thanks so much for letting me take up some space on your fantastic Blog. Cheers Michael.

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