Billy’s Booger: a memoir (sorta)

Billy's Booger book cover

William Joyce has managed to craft a story that every teacher should read to writing classes, and he’s created this gem out of boogers.

Billy’s Booger: a memoir (sorta)
by William Joyce and his younger self
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015
ISBN 978-1-4424-7351-5
40 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 26 cm
Picture book, memoir, fiction
Interest level: K-5; reading level: 4.9
Lexile measure: 750
5 out of 5 stars


I have to admit that this book caught me by surprise! I started to read it because…booger…duh! It’s a book about boogers, and no matter how old you are, boogers and farts are funny! William Joyce, who also wrote The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, has managed to craft a story that every teacher should read to writing classes, and he’s created this gem out of boogers.

Billy is an extremely creative boy who uses his imagination to: transport himself into the world of the comic strips; make math creative; and create sports that only he can excel at. Teachers and principals, and sometimes parents, don’t always appreciate Billy’s creative genius. When the school librarian launches a kid’s book contest, Billy goes all out! But unfortunately:

He didn’t win first place.
He didn’t win second place.
He didn’t win third place.
He didn’t get an honorable mention.
He didn’t get a note from his teacher.
He didn’t even get sent to the principal.

Billy is dejected and his family worries because “Billy is so normal now, it’s weird.” Billy’s classmates fall in love with his story and make Billy’s Booger the most checked out book in the library. Billy and his creative mind are back and ready for his next adventure!

There are several great messages in Billy’s story. Even though Billy didn’t officially win the writing contest and get a prize, that didn’t mean his story wasn’t good. Readers can see from the feedback Principal Blisterbaum left for Billy that his writing had some areas that needed work, such as spelling and punctuation. Published authors talk a lot about how much they have to edit their work, and Billy’s story brings that message to life.

I love how well received Billy’s story was among his peers. Books like the one that Billy wrote, and all those books that make reading teachers cringe because they are seen as lacking “literary value”–Captain Underpants and Guinness Book of World Records–are sometimes the perfect stories to capture the hearts of reluctant readers.

The hidden prize in this already wonderful story is that Billy’s book is actually tipped-in and readers get to read it and enjoy for themselves. It is special to note that this tipped-in book is actually the story that a young William Joyce wrote when he was in the fourth grade. Teachers that may share this book with their class should be sure to share this information, so the students can see how the creative young Billy has become the man who creates incredible books and films.

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