Eric Vale: Epic Fail by Michael Gerard Bauer
Scholastic, 2012. ISBN 978 1 86201 992 1.
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Schools. Bullying. Nicknames and their effects is the theme of this very funny story from Bauer, a genius at getting down the nitty gritty of school experiences. He presents the day to day grind of just coping with all that goes on, the helter skelter of life passing by, and coping with a nickname which is totally unwanted. In chapter one, Eric explains just how his name came about, how he often spends time in the classroom thinking of things entirely at odds with what is actually happening, bringing the wrath of his teacher onto his head. When the class is discussing the environment, the teacher tells them of the epic fail that is the introduction of cane toads, and Martin, Eric's tormentor turns to his friends to make sure they twigged to the connection between Eric Vale and the teacher's terminology, Epic Fail. So a nickname is born, one he would love to be rid of.
Another time Eric and his friends are involved in the school assembly, presenting a play complete with clip on microphones. Of course, Eric and his friend sit themselves back in the audience, and a mix up occurs with the off and on switch, broadcasting Eric's comments about the boring speaker to the whole school. Epic fail, once again.
Bauer's descriptions of Eric and his class are all inviting, with sequences and settings that are familiar to everyone involved in schools. Laugh out loud, the situations in the school are enormously funny, and the range of children within the class engrossing. The attempts by Eric and his friend Chewy to rid him of his hated nickname will intrigue readers from start to finish, and augmented by some additional funny drawings around the margins of the pages, readers will be delighted to see that this is the first of a series.