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Punchlines - Oliver Phommavanh


Published: 21st March 2012
For Ages: 13 - 16 years old
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RRP $16.99
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Published: 21st March 2012
For Ages: 9 - 12 years old
Format: ePUB

As long as you can make a girl laugh, she'll go for you, right? Well, unless you're a seriously weird teenager like Johnny Khamka. Surviving high school is hard enough, but how on earth can he get his childhood bestie, Josie, now a seriously hot teenager, to take him seriously? The answer is to keep her laughing. But when Johnny decides to take comedy seriously, he's suddenly at risk of not being funny at all.

About the Author

Oliver is a young Thai-Australian writer for children. In 2008 Oliver was published in the Growing Up Asian in Australia anthology and has featured on a panels at the Sydney Writers' Festival among many other appearances and blogs. He is a primary school teacher who shares his writing passion with kids and engages them with humour. He's also a stand-up comedian and has appeared on national TV and radio as well as a number of well-known comedy venues such as the Comedy Store in Sydney. His first book, Thai-riffic!, was published in June 2010 to critical acclaim, followed by Con-nerd in 2011.



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(based on 1 review)

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


Great gift for 13year old boy


from Melbourne

About Me Everyday Reader

Verified Buyer


  • Deserves Multiple Readings
  • Easy To Understand


    Best Uses

    • Gift
    • Younger Readers

    Comments about Punchlines:

    My just turned 13 year old son loves this author and devoured this book.

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    Every girl wants a guy with a sense of humour. What a joke. If that was true, I'd have a girlfriend by now. Girls would find any guy funny if he was all muscles and built like a tank. Most guys can't tell the difference between a fake and real laugh anyway.

    But I can.

    In primary school, I swallowed up every joke and riddle book. I knew I wanted to be a comedian. But I wasn't exactly the class clown. I wasn't popular. I was a weapon of mass distraction. I'd say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Kids would laugh or groan. I didn't get in trouble. I got away with it because everyone thought I was weird, even the teachers. I didn't crave attention but I still got a kick out of making people laugh, especially Josie.

    We hang out every week when our parents meet up. When I was too young to know better, I thought we were cousins. We always seemed to be included as part of her family, so I really thought I was. Now that we've hit Year 10, I'm glad we're not.

    But she's out of my league.

    'I think I have a boyfriend,' Josie says.

    A grenade's just gone off inside my rib cage. Damn, not the b-word. It's just as bad as the f-word, friend. Our parents don't care when we're hanging out in her bedroom. They know I'd be too chicken to make a move.

    'Ken and I were mucking around at Mary's place,' she says as she matches up some fabric samples on her table.

    Aw, no, not Ken! I reckon he shares the same IQ as the Ken doll. 'Yeah, did he ask you out or something?'

    'Ask me out?'

    'You know, 'Will you go out with me?' '

    Josie chucks a square of fabric at me. 'You are lame, lame, lame.'

    I prop myself up on her piggy-pink pillows. 'Okies, relationship test time. First question, can you tell your parents?'

    Josie shakes her head. 'Dad would kill me if he saw Ken's car. It's a cheetah on wheels.'

    'Okay, question two, can you put it on Facebook?'

    'Mmmm, I'll wait until he changes his status.'

    'Three, can you tell your friends?'

    'Just Mary,' she says. 'And now you.'

    'So you can't really tell anyone then,' I say. 'Three strikes, you're not going out.'

    'We're going to the movies on Friday night,' she says. 'Maybe we'll be official after that.'

    I stare at all her posters of vampires, angels and other things that don't exist. There should be a picture of us together up there too. 'What do you like about him anyway?'

    'He's cute and funny.'

    'I'm funny.'

    She laughs. 'No, you're just you.'

    'Hey, come outside and eat!' Alice hollers from downstairs.

    'We better go,' Josie says. 'Your sister's a psycho!'

    'Nah, she's just a nerdy freak.' Alice scored 99.98 in her HSC and sailed straight through to a pharmacy degree at uni. She's impatient to get somewhere so I'm sure she'll find a way to fast-track her pharmacy degree.

    Josie comes within kissing distance and my blood boils like a vampire's. 'Don't tell anyone about Ken, okay?'

    'Yeah.' I want to rage and punch a hole in the wall. Okay, maybe a tiny dent. I've got chicken feet for hands. I'll never get used to Josie's lovesick cycle. She has lipsticks that last longer than her boyfriends. She doesn't need to read her horoscopes to know that they'll break up.

    Then I have to put the S on my chest and come to her rescue. I'm her shoulder to lean on.

    Wish I could be something more.

    Josie's back lawn is a farmyard of cooked animals. I dodge her cousins playing tip around the hills hoist and find my dad hanging out by the spit roast.

    'So I went into McCafe for a coffee. It was terrible. The barista says if you don't like it, I can make you another one,' Dad says. 'Why would I want another bad coffee?'

    The circle turns into a cyclone of laughter and Dad's in the eye of the storm. He's a baby-face joke teller. It's like he swallowed a giant bottle of anti-aging cream when he was younger. 'Come get a feed, Johnny – get some meat on your bones.' He bites a Laotian sausage in half like a shark chomping on a surfboard.

    I'm shaped like a dried beef strip. If I pumped myself with steroids, I'd probably just get buffer bones.

    'You wouldn't last a minute on the spit roast,' says Josie's dad.

    Her dad and mine have been buddies since they touched down in Australia – Dad from Laos and Uncle Allen from Vietnam. They both stayed in a hostel in Villawood and they've stuck together. We don't have any relos here, so Uncle Allen has welcomed us into their tribe. They don't just have a family tree, it's a rainforest. It's hard to know which ones are the real uncles and aunties. But there's more than enough love and food to go around.

    'Finished your English speech?' Dad asks.

    'Yeah Dad, I'm pro,' I say.

    'You should be, it's your first language now.'

    I pile my plate with sausages and sticky rice. 'I'll just copy you and make it up on the spot.'

    'You have three minutes.' He pinches my arm. 'You'll be lucky to come up with a sentence.'

    I love mucking around with Dad. I bet if he was at school now, he'd have 'jokester' on his Year 12 jersey. Dad's always good for a snappy comeback or a one-liner. I want to be that guy at school, funny, popular, hot girl on my arm. I wonder if people saw Josie on my arm, would they think she was my cousin? She still treats me like one. I wish we could hit reset, so she could see me in a different way. But would she think I was funny then? I'd just have to keep her laughing and wanting more.

    ISBN: 9780143306511
    ISBN-10: 0143306510
    Audience: Teenager / Young Adult
    For Ages: 13 - 16 years old
    For Grades: 9 - 12
    Format: Paperback
    Language: English
    Number Of Pages: 208
    Published: 21st March 2012
    Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
    Country of Publication: AU
    Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 13.0  x 2.3
    Weight (kg): 0.2
    Edition Number: 1