Don't Call Me Ishmael, by Michael Gerard Bauer

There’s no easy way to put this, so I’ll just say it straight out. It’s time I faced up to the truth. I’m fourteen years old and I have Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome.
There is no cure.

So begins this delightful account of a boy’s journey through year nine. Ishmael Leseur – yes, he does have the same name as the disease because, the reader quickly learns, his name and the consequences of having such a name, ARE the disease. You see, Ishmael is being bullied, and the bully’s focus is on Ishmael’s name. From the moment that Barry Bagsley says “Ishmael? What kind of wussy-crap name is that?” Ishmael’s life changes.. He says: I learnt to make myself as small a target as possible. I became an expert at this. I became virtually invisible to Barry Bagsley and his mates. Sometimes I could barely see myself.

All this changes in year nine, when a new boy, James Scobie, joins the class. James is different. Very different. And he is paired with Ishmael in class. Soon the pair have struck up a friendship, and together with their collection of other year nine misfits, they learn to take on not just Barry Bagsley, but also anything else life throws at them.

This is a humorous book which will have readers laughing out loud, and while it also has some frightening and emotional moments, it is this humour which keeps the novel moving along and stops the reader from wanting to put it down.

Michael Gerard Bauer’s first book, The Running Man, won the CBCA’s Book of the Year award. Don’t Call Me Ishmael is similar in the quality of its writing, but is a very different book in most other aspects, being a lighter read. This is a good thing as it gives Bauer a chance to show the breadth of his talents. Teen readers will love Ishmael and his friends and this book is sure to win accolades, too.

Don’t Call Me Ishmael, by Michael Gerard Bauer
Scholastic, 2006