For some years I’ve been aware of the Ishmael books by Michael Gerard Bauer and have had people whose opinion I respect tell me how good they are. I’ve finally read the first book, Don’t Call Me Ishmael and it is now on our recommended shelves for teens. It’s terrific.
Ishmael is 14 years old and his unusual name has become the bane of his existence. His father insists on telling anyone who makes a comment on the name the ‘hilarious’ circumstances which led to his newborn son being given that particular moniker. The boys at Ishmael’s new school don’t find it amusing though, in fact it causes him a great deal of grief from the school bully, Barry Bagsley. An alliance forms between Ishmael and the other ‘unusual’ boy, James Scobie.
What I really like about this book, apart from the fact that is well written, funny and believable is that everything isn’t neatly tied up by the end. The bully is still a bully and Ishmael ends the school year knowing that Barry will still be the same next year, but he is learning to deal with it and knows that he doesn’t want to be cruel like Barry, even when the opportunity arises.