Louie has several problems. His father has stopped being a suit-wearing kind of guy who went to work everyday and is now at home trying to be an artist. His mother has gone back to work as a gym teacher. His older sister Ari is supercilious and annoying, his younger sister Ruby is obsessed with unicorns, and his best friend Nick has suddenly turned into a sporty jock with a girl who goes by the name of Thermos. This makes starting fifth grade hard, but it gets even worse. The obnoxious Ryan is in his class, and his father is thinking about taking out the stage in his closet. About that stage. Louie is a huge fan of comic Louis Lafferman, but he is stricken with stage fright that he only feels comfortable doing his stand up routine where no one can see him. At Thermos' and Nick's urging, he signs up for the school talent show. Will he be able to make it through the entire performance, and even if he does, will the rest of his life improve?
This has some similarities to Patterson/Grabenstein's I, Funny, which my students have enjoyed. I see this being equally popular. The combination of notebook novel style and plenty of barf jokes would make this a must-read for actual 5th graders. Louie's difficulties with friends and school are realistically portrayed, as is the family situation. This is well-paced and nicely written.