Synopses & Reviews
Meet Joe Bunch. Lovable misfit and celebrity wannabe from Paintbrush Falls, New York. Like his longtime best friends Addie, Skeezie, and Bobby, Joe's been called names all his life. So when he's given the assignment to write his alphabiography the story of his life from A to Z Joe has his doubts. This whole thing could be serious ammunition for bullying if it falls into the wrong hands.
But Joe discovers there's more to the assignment and his life than meets the eye. Especially when he gets to the letter C, which stands for Colin Briggs, the coolest guy in the seventh grade (seriously) and Joe's secret boyfriend.
By the time Joe gets to the letter Z, he's pretty much bared his soul about everything. And Joe's okay with that because he likes who he is. He's Totally Joe, and that's the best thing for him to be.
Here is an exuberant, funny, totally original story of one boy's coming out and coming-of-age.
"Delivering trenchant messages about tolerance, self-knowledge and the vacuity of teenage popularity, Howe's ultimately uplifting tale marks the welcome return of the Gang of Five (though there are really only four), introduced in The Misfits. The novel's innovative format reveals the 'alphabiography' of 13-year-old Joe Bunch, the gay member of the seventh-grade misfits. In this alphabetical survey, assigned by his English teacher, he shares his heartfelt, snappy reflections. For 'A is for Addie,' he recalls his earlier years, when he liked to dress up and play with Barbie dolls (a pastime that bonded him to Addie, also from the Gang of Five). He confesses that in fifth grade he wanted to be a 'guy-guy' so badly that he asked his friend to teach him how ('Oh. My. God. It was pathetic'). Joe has a crush on 'totally cool, smart' Colin (the 'C' entry), a jock who returns his affection but is not ready to go public with their relationship and eventually calls it off. Encouraged by his insightful aunt, Joe takes a major leap when he comes out to his supportive family. Howe deals with weighty issues, but uses Joe's affable personality to interject ample humor, and the hero ends each segment with a 'Life Lesson,' many presenting principles appropriate to any kid (e.g., 'Just be who you are, okay?'). This narrator is anything but an average Joe: he's candid, memorable and though he might find this hard to believe totally charismatic. Ages 10-14." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"What might have been purposeful in less-skilled hands is here a delightful, moving, realistic portrayal of a young teen coming to terms with being gay, and all that entails." Children's Literature
"[T]he approach is novel and the conclusion optimistic." School Library Journal
"Howe has created a character that lives and breathes with all of the inconsistencies, fears and longings of your normal average seventh-grade homosexual." Kirkus Reviews
"This funny, inspiring novel may help give gay YAs hope and everyone the courage to speak out against discrimination; readers both gay and straight will enjoy the experience of seeing life through Joe's eyes." KLIATT
andlt;bandgt;"Everybody says you and Colin were kissing." andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; "What? That's ridiculous!" andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; "For heaven's sake, Joe, if you and Colin want to kiss, you have every right to." andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; "We did not kiss," I told her. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; Addie shrugged. "Whatever." andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; What was it with my friends?andlt;/bandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt; From the creator of andlt;iandgt;The Misfitsandlt;/iandgt;, the book that inspired NATIONAL NO NAME-CALLING WEEK, comes the story of Joe Bunch....
About the Author
James Howe is the author of more than ninety books for young readers, including the modern classic andlt;iandgt;Bunniculaandlt;/iandgt; and its highly popular sequels. In 2001, Howe published andlt;iandgt;The Misfitsandlt;/iandgt;, the story of four outcast seventh-graders who try to end name-calling in their school. andlt;i andgt;The Misfitsandlt;/iandgt; is now widely read and studied in middle schools throughout the country, and was the inspiration for the national movement known as No Name-Calling Week (NoNameCallingWeek.org), an event observed by thousands of middle and elementary schools annually. There are three companion novels to andlt;iandgt;The Misfitsandlt;/iandgt;: andlt;iandgt;Totally Joe andlt;/iandgt;(2005), andlt;iandgt;Addie on the Inside andlt;/iandgt;(2011), and andlt;iandgt;Also Known as Elvis andlt;/iandgt;(2014). Howeand#8217;s many other books for children from preschool through teens frequently deal with the acceptance of difference and being true to oneself. Visit him online at JamesHowe.com.