A Good Laugh

I’ve just finished one of the funniest children’s chapter books of 2013, and I’m laughing all the way to the computer to write about it. Tim Federle’s hilarious middle-grade novel, Better Nate Than Ever, is equal parts Glee and Modern Family (Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s review blurb even appears on the cover page). My funny bone can’t wait to see what comes next from Mr. Federle.

The novel’s main character, Nate Foster, dreams of being on Broadway, but he’s stuck in small-town Pennsylvania. That doesn’t deter this enterprising thirteen-year-old, who curses by shouting out the titles of Broadway flops, and who has a foolproof plan for sneaking off to New York City to audition for the lead in E.T.: The Musical. How Nate’s comical adventure unfolds I leave to you to discover, and if you are looking for other side-splitting LGBT-themed children’s books, try these titles:

The Manny Files (2006) and Hit the Road, Manny (2008), Christian Burch (Grades 4-7)

The “manny” is a (gay) male nanny, who brings a campy sensibility to these Mary Poppins-inspired stories. Be interesting is the manny’s mantra for the children, and his pithy life advice is never anything less than fabulous.

The Popularity Papers Series (2011) Amy Ignatow (Grades 4-7)

If Tina Fey or Amy Poehler ever wrote a cartoon-filled chapter book for middle-graders, it would undoubtedly look something like these laugh-out-loud stories. I’m a huge fan of the main characters and best friends, Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang, and whenever Julie’s two dads are on the scene, hilarity ensues!

Absolutely, Positively, Not… (2005), David LaRochelle (Grades 8-10)

Sixteen-year-old Steven keeps a stash of International Male catalogs underneath his bed, but he swears he is absolutely, positively not gay. Regardless, there is no denying that LaRochelle has crafted a funny, frolicking coming-out story. Winner of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award.


With a child in one hand and a book in the other,

Christian Porter