‘Too old for Wimpy Kid? Meet Joe Cowley’. A fitting tag line to lead us into the fourth instalment of this series. 16-year-old Joe and his band ‘Sound Experience’, move to London, in pursuit of stardom and cosmopolitan living. A squirm- inducing comedy of embarrassment is to follow. Do you have a teenage boy in your life who chuckles at flatulence, cringe comedy, and the word ‘knobber’ as a term of insult? If they also happen to be reluctant readers, then the Joe Cowley series could well be an essential purchase.
In Straight Outta Nerdsville, Joe and the band have landed a record company contract and are flat-sharing in London. In a bid to become an urban sophisticate, Joe attempts to take up smoking Cuban cigars and playing poker, while watching subtitled French films, and mixing with ‘real London people’, like the artisanal bakers he meets, who specialise in political egg custards.
A cringe-fest ensues when his dad shows up as their live-in chaperone. That unfortunate down-with-the-kids parental type, Joe’s dad talks candidly about being a hot blooded male with needs,
…let me tell you who was dynamite in that department – your mother.
Cue much face palming.
The plot careers along haphazardly, encompassing girlfriend trouble, hanging out with pop stars, and a slew of unseemly events that result in a gleefully adolescent kind of mortification.
I laughed loudly and often! The humour’s always juvenile, and often crass, but it’s written with warmth and good natured zest.
Presented as a blog, there have been inevitable comparisons with that other well-known teenager, Adrian Mole. The Joe Cowley books lack Mole’s satirical wit and charm, but speaking from experience, it’s worth seeking them out, if only to hear the snorts of mirth emanating from your absorbed teen reader.
Start with Book One, simply titled The Private Blog of Joe Cowley.