After a brief hiatus, my teenage sidekick, Katrina Van Amsterdam, is back with a new review for ShelfTalker readers, and a new job at Wellesley Booksmith! After several years of grooming her for the job, we’ve now hired Katrina as a bookseller at our store, and are pleased (but not surprised) to report that she’s a natural at it. Newly 17 (Happy birthday, Katrina!), she’s also newly enamored of Jake Wizner’s Spanking Shakespeare, as you’ll see from her review below.
Have you ever realized how hilarious it is to be a socially challenged boy? I certainly didn’t… at least, not until I read Spanking Shakespeare. Jake Wizner’s brilliant debut novel details the high school escapades of Shakespeare Shapiro, a high school senior whose primary goal in life is to get a girlfriend. Or get some action… whichever comes first. His one claim to fame is his writing ability, which is put to good use as he writes a comical memoir for his senior project. Wizner chronicles Shakespeare’s last year of high school with such skill that he sent me into gales of laughter. Spanking Shakespeare has rocketed to the top of the list of my all-time favorite books, and I have no doubt in my mind that Shakespeare Shapiro will win a place in the hearts of all who read it.
Alison again: Whether or not you’ve already read Spanking Shakespeare, you might enjoy playing with the Spanking Shakespeare Obituary Generator Random House has created to promote the book. My first attempted yielded the following results:
World-renowned writer/artist/traveler Alison died today in a hospital in Harrisburg. Doctors are still unsure of what exactly caused the death, but believe it was due to complications after Alison harangued too fast and suffered pains in her earlobe. She was 4 years old.
Alison was a exquisite person, who enjoyed everything about life. She was known for her passion for freshly baked bread, which she often ate 42 times a day. She loved to share freshly baked bread with everyone, and would even offer freshly baked bread to strangers. Alison also enjoyed traveling, especially to historical landmarks, and loved meeting people around the world. On her trip to Johannesburg she even met the president (and yes, she offered him freshly baked bread). After meeting him, Alison said the President was blushing.
Alison is survived by her partner Gareth, their 16 children, and their pet quetzal named Resplendent.
(When I asked Gareth how he’d feel about having 16 children he said, "As long as we can have 4 maids." He later revised that, saying, "The question is really how YOU feel about having 16 children!" I shuddered in answer.)
As for Jake Wizner’s relationship to other children’s authors, get a load of this bit, excerpted from his bio:
I went to Wesleyan University, and it was in one of my English classes that I made my first serious attempt at writing fiction. I was immensely proud of the piece I had submitted and remember smiling confidently at the student next to me as our professor returned our work. He got an A. I got a B-. After college, he dubbed himself Lemony Snicket and became the second most famous children’s book author in the world. I moved to New Orleans to teach public school, dubbed myself the Phantom Bard, and chronicled my experiences in the local Teach for America newsletter.