Eleven-year-old David Greenberg dreams of becoming a TV superstar like his idol, Jon Stewart. But in real life, David is just another kid terrified of starting his first year at Harman Middle School. With a wacky sense of humor and hilarious Top 6? Lists, David spends his free time making Talk Time videos, which he posts on YouTube. But before he can get famous, he has to figure out a way to deal with:
6. Middle school (much scarier than it sounds!)
5. His best friend gone girl-crazy
4. A runaway mom who has no phone!
3. The threat of a swirlie on his birthday
2. A terrifying cousin
1. His # 1 fan, Bubbe (his Jewish grandmother)
1/2. Did we mention Hammy, the hamster who's determined to break David's heart?
When David and his best friend have a fight, David is lucky enough to make a pretty cool new friend, Sophie-who just (gulp) happens to be a girl. Sophie thinks David's videos are hilarious, and she starts sending out the links to everyone she knows. Sophie's friends tell their friends, and before David knows it, thousands of people are viewing his videos-including some of the last people he would have expected.
David may still feel like a real-life schmo, but is he ready to become an Internet superstar?
This funny, tender novel stars 11-year-old David Greenberg, who lives with his father, older sister, and beloved grandmother (his mother left the family two years earlier). David idolizes comedian Jon Stewart and spends his days with his best friend, Elliott, uploading to YouTube episodes of his homemade show, TalkTime, which stars his pet hamster. But when middle school begins, Elliott abandons David for the school bully, and David, in turn, is befriended by formerly homeschooled new student Sophie, who loves his videos and sends them to her network of homeschooled kids. Gephart (As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President!) writes effectively about David's feelings about his family, his betrayal by Elliott, and his continued isolation: "What good does it do to have thousands of fans online when not a single person at school likes me except Sophie?" Although his observations sometimes seem too mature and the eventual resolution between David and Elliott feels anticlimactic, Gephart's story is relatable and compulsively readable. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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Delacorte Books for Young Readers
April 13, 2010
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Excerpt from How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart
The first day of summer vacation is important, because what you do that day sets the tone for the rest of summer.
That's why my best friend, Elliott Berger, is coming over to watch the Daily Show episodes I've recorded. Mom and I used to watch them together. She always said the host, Jon Stewart, stood up for the little guy, which is funny, because Jon Stewart is a little guy--five feet seven inches. According to Wikipedia, the average height for men in the United States is five feet nine and a half inches.
Let's just say I can totally relate to Jon's height issue.
Anyway, I record other shows, like The Colbert Report and Late Show, too, but mostly Elliott and I watch The Daily Show. We both think Jon Stewart is hilarious and a great interviewer. Someday I'm going to be a famous talk show host like Jon.
He and I have a lot in common.
1. We're both Jewish.
2. We both have our own talk shows--but mine's different from his. It's called TalkTime and I post the shows on YouTube.
3. We're both vertically challenged (but I still have time to grow).
Since Elliott won't be here for a while, I shoot my first TalkTime of the summer without him.
First I set up the studio (aka my bedroom) by taping a poster of New York City's skyline on my wall, kind of like they do on the Late Show with David Letterman. That way it looks like I'm shooting in an exciting location instead of boring Bensalem, Pennsylvania, where the biggest news is that they opened a Golden Corral buffet restaurant on Street Road. (Yes, I know that's a weird name for a road, but that's what it's called. It's almost as stupid as parking in a driveway and driving on a parkway.)
Anyway, next I make sure my special guest is ready in the greenroom (aka the bathroom).
Finally, I set my camera on the tripod in my bedroom, bang two empty paper-towel rolls together and say, "Action!"
Using my best talk show host voice, I begin: "Welcome to TalkTime with David Greenberg." I scribble on a piece of paper with a grand flourish, like Jon Stewart does on The Daily Show. Then I crumple the paper, toss it into my laundry basket and keep talking. "It's our first show of the summer and it's going to be a hot one. Ha! Ha!"
I hear Hammy's wheel spin like crazy, so I turn the camera toward his cage and give him a close-up. "And now," I say, "your moment of Hammy." As though on cue, Hammy hops off his wheel, looks up and twitches his whiskers.
I smile and think about how I'll edit that later, showing a split screen--Hammy on the right, credits scrolling on the left.
I point the camera back at myself and sit in front of fake New York. "Before we get to today's special guest, it's time for Top Six and a Half with David Greenberg.
"Top Six and a Half Things That I, David Todd Greenberg, Will Miss About Longwood Elementary School.
"One: The lunch lady who snuck ice cream onto my tray every Friday. By the way, awesome hairnet, lunch lady.
"Two: Student of the Week, which I won a total of seven times--more than anyone in the history of Longwood El. Wahoo!"
I pace around my room until I come up with number three. "Three: Helping Ms. Florez in the TV studio with morning announcements. She said I was the best news anchor she ever had."
I pace again and trip on the tripod. The camera topples, but I catch it. I can edit that out later, though it'll make a weird jump in the action. It would probably be safer if I wrote my Top Six and a Half before I filmed them! Back in front of fake New York, I take a deep breath and say, "Four: Spanish Club.
"Five: Academic Games.
"Six: Watching Coach Lukasik, who is definitely not vertically challenged--that man could be an NBA superstar--hula hoop during P.E. with the girls.
"And the thing I'll miss most about Longwood El? "Six and one-half: Everything!"