Saturday 22 September 2012

266. My Totally Awesome Story by Pat Flynn and illustrated by Peter Carnavas

My Totally Awesome Story by Pat Flynn and illustrated by Peter Carnavas
Published August 2012 UQp

From the publisher:
My Totally Awesome Story is a school-based comedy about a fearless boy named Duane. As he fills in his writing workbook with his wicked stories and cartoons, Duane hilariously details his run-ins with the deputy principal, his misadventures with his best mate Meatball, his crush on hot chick Jackie, as well as his dreams to jump over 100 cars on his motorbike. A self-confessed legend, Duane will have kids laughing out loud to the very last page!

I am always a little wary of books that look like they are trying to be something else.  What do I mean by that?  Well, when I first looked at this book, I thought OK, it’s written in diary form, there are illustrations on every page, it’s set in a school, it’s funny…Diary of a Wimpy Kid sprang to mind.  That’s not a bad thing.  I think I have sold more Diary of a Wimpy Kid books than any other book…EVER, and yes that includes Harry Potter, and if kids are reading it, I am all for it (FYI: there’s a new Wimpy Kid due in November!). Once I started reading this one though, I realised that it’s not actually a diary, but a journal/workbook for English class.

This really is a nifty book.  The format is that of a workbook, that includes a number of set writing assignments as well as space for a journal, to be written in weekly.  Duane is not the most academically minded of students, so his entries tend to be ridiculous, but very funny.  His writing consist mainly of bums, FMX (freestyle motorcross), footy, his friend Meatball, a girl called Jackie and most of his stories have him as the hero.

While I am obviously not the target audience for this book, I did indeed find myself laughing while reading.  One of my favourite parts is when Duane does some “ghosting’ behind a VIP visiting the school, her name is Julia, she has given a lot of money to the school (there’s a picture that may help you identify her), and when she stops abruptly he slams into her, gets a blood nose, and ends up on the news!  There’s also a story about pranking, that goes horribly wrong, when Duane has to give mouth to mouth to an elderly man…who may or may not be a prankster himself.

Kids will love it because of the humour and the identifiable school setting, teachers may actually like this book too because of the writing activities throughout.  There are story writing ideas, exercises in story structure, identifying characters and editing.  Of course Duane’s responses to these activities may not be what a teacher is looking for, but it’s his responses that will have the boys in fits!  There are even blank Writing Activity – Story Starters and Guided Story suggestions in the back of the book.

This idea for a book makes even more sense when I get to the back of the book, and it turns out that Pat Flynn has actually been running writing workshops for 10 years, and he used a number of the activities in this book.  I must also say that I especially liked the mention of a visiting author to the school, the one and only…Pat Flynn…if you can’t feature yourself in your own book, when can you!

Who will like this book: Boys age 10+
Read it if you like: Diary of a Wimpy Kid


  1. This is a totally awesome review of my totally awesome book.
    I think your kool.

  2. Thanks Duane. What a treat to hear from the star of the book himself!