Slipping into the boy-friendly spot between Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a new young adult novel by Rick Detorie, creator of One Big Happy, a strip you may have seen on your newspaper's comics page.
Not a graphic novel but in fact a liberally illustrated prose novel (with extremely short paragraphs), The accidental genius of Weasel High is about a 14-year-old boy named Larkin navigating his freshman year of high school. Larkin's not too bad off - he has a couple of good friends and nobody picks on him much. He has a dreadful sister who manages to throw things into sharp relief, when she's not actually throwing things, and parents who are basically ok even if they are generally clueless and embarrassing.
Not a whole lot happens. And I have to say, it's a bit of a relief. Nobody has mad cow disease, the school doesn't burn down, Larkin's parents don't split up. This gives us the chance to settle in and enjoy getting to know Larkin. He lives on a farm, for example, and owns seventeen dogs. He thinks that shrimp cocktail is a drink. His love life and his relationship with his eccentric friend Freddie enfold (UNFOLD. I am an idiot) in episodic fits and starts, a lot like real life and in fact a lot like a daily comic strip.
(Lord my, you should read The Comics Curmudgeon if you need evidence that sometimes plotlines attenuate over years and years and YEARS on the funny page. Blogger and Baltimore boy Josh Fruhlinger has the filthiest things to say about Mary Worth.)
(Huh. I just discovered that Detorie is a Baltimore boy, too. I wondered if he was - there are a couple of locations in Accidental Genius that rang that out-of-tune Baltimore bell.)
One Big Happy is pretty funny - the kids in it are like naive little maniacs, delivering one-liners with a deadpan that older folks just can't manage - but I was a bit skeptical about the author's ability to land the big jumps in the long program, so to speak. I expected funky, realistic characters and smart humor, but I am exceptionally pleased to discover that Detorie manages a smooth, nicely-strung-together narrative as well. Such a crowd-pleaser that I would suggest The accidental genius of Weasel High as a middle school class read.