Would the Real Stanley Carrot Please Stand Up? ISBN: 9781783442287
Published by Andersen Press, 2015
Stanley's name isn't really Stanley Carrot, but the bullies at school call him Carrot because of his bright red hair. On his 13th birthday, his parents give him a BMX bike, a present he really doesn't want because he isn't the least bit sports minded and he has a perfectly good bike already. However, he pretends to like his gift because he always likes to pretend that all is well in his world. Stanley is adopted, and his loving parents treat him very well. But the problem is, he has a younger brother who is actually their son, and as he is a talented footballer and rather loud and full of beans with it, Stan doesn't feel he gets much attention. In fact, his whole life seems to be one of feeling a failure in every way, in spite of the fact that he does well in school and has won a national poetry competition. He would quite like to meet his adoptive mother, who, he feels, deserted him, and each birthday he hopes he may hear from her. When he does, it is a shock, and he is fearful of what to do. How would his mother feel when meeting a son who is not sporty, who is on the podgy side and not exactly good looking? His cousin Chloe, who is 16 and terribly 'with it', is often off-hand with 'Stan the man' as she calls him, but when he confesses to her that he has had the card from his mother, they hatch a plan. Not a good plan, as they soon realise, and it puts them in deep trouble. Stanley must learn the hard way that adults can make mistakes too, no matter how hard they try, and that it is possible he has been mis-reading the vibes he's been getting from his family. Stanley is, in fact, clever, funny and talented, and by the end of the novel he is beginning to recognise how much he is loved by his family and that even Aggie, 'the coolest girl in school by a hundred miles' thinks he's ace. Getting there is difficult, though, not made any easier by a gang of boys who make life hard. One of them turns out to be friendly after all, and we see how life has made him into the bully he has become. The happy ending is super, and I left the story feeling glad that this lovable boy, who has had to learn to love himself, finds himself in a good place. A stonking good read with lots of detail about the problems one can face in feeling oneself out of tune with one's world.