Alfred A. Knopf, 1991
Gary Boone's classmates and teachers are tired of his constant jokes. He wants to be a stand-up comedian, but all he can get from his friends are groans. When Gary announces that he wants to tell jokes at the school talent show his parents issue him a difficult challenge - keep his humor to himself until the performance. Will giving up telling jokes for weeks result in a final, incredible explosion of talent, or will Gary just lose his touch? And is someone planning to sabotage his act?
This is my favorite book by Louis Sachar. I like it even better than Holes. It's a story about an artist coming to terms with his muse, about the fine line between a weakness and a gift, and about how every disaster is a triumph waiting to happen. Great reading for ages nine and up.