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The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh

Written by Helen Rutter

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The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh Review

Debuts of the Month Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 11+ readers Humorous Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE) Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE)

Laugh-out-lines on every page and heartbreaking life lessons handled with a light touch.

A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2021 | Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | February 2021 Debut of the Month

Both touching and funny this is a brilliant story about being brave, being different and learning that being you is what really matters. Billy likes nothing more than making and performing jokes and dreams that one day he will be a famous stand-up comedian. But Billy has a stammer and it can be hard for him even to get a joke out quickly enough. Just now, Billy has a problem which will strike a chord with many: he is about to start secondary school and knows that it will be all too easy for him to become a target for bullies. Especially because of his stammer. Billy thinks of all kinds of schemes to avoiding speaking while also knowing that staying silent goes right against who he really is.  How can Billy show his tremendous inner strength and especially his great sense of humour if he never dares to speak? Luckily Billy makes some good friends, meets a great teacher and, drawing on the support of his family and the work of his speech and language therapist, manages not only to survive but also to succeed!   

Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.


Julia Eccleshare M.B.E

Other Info

A letter from the author, Helen Rutter;


Dear reader,

I’m so excited to be writing this letter. I love a good letter at the best of times but this is one I never imagined I would be asked to write!

My name is Helen Rutter and I am the author of The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh. I worked as a jobbing actress throughout my twenties (my first job was a year-long theatre tour of Jaqueline Wilson’s Double Act, playing one of the twins!) and after my son Lenny was born, I started writing shows and performing them at the Edinburgh festival, alongside my husband, the comedian Rob Rouse.

Lenny has a stammer and a couple of years ago a shared anecdote sparked an idea for a book. Rob told me that Lenny had been playing table tennis in the village hall with a little boy who was deaf. I started to imagine how a boy with a stammer could communicate with a boy who needed to lip read. Lenny had also recently started making jokes at moments when his stammer was particularly strong and I was enjoying seeing him flex his comedic muscles, and using humour to deal with something that was incredibly challenging for him. I had a very strong and clear realisation: ‘Oh my god, I’m going to HAVE to write a book!’

I wrote a chapter every day and read it out loud to Lenny before bed, who told me when I had not hit the mark or pointed out the moments when I had really understood what it was like for him. I took a lot of things from our life and had to check in with him that he was happy about how I was telling the story: experiences with speech therapists, school performances and Lenny’s love of the drums are all in there! But as I wrote the book, the character of Billy slowly started to become someone entirely distinct from Lenny. Someone with his own story and struggle.

Lenny is now twelve years old and his stammer comes and goes. The difference now when we talk about it is the gentleness with which he treats himself. He is no longer fighting it or embarrassed and I am no longer scared for him, for what it may mean for him. We have all just accepted it as a verysmall part of his story.

Maybe that’s why it arrived as an idea when it did. It was no longer defining him/us and with that came a lightness that allowed me to see it for the unique (but hopefully universal) and inspiring story that it is.

Me and Lenny are both super proud of Billy Plimpton and we love him to bits. We can’t wait to see him on the shelves in February and have him tell his story to people who may never have met anyone like him, but who have experienced all of the very same feelings that he does during the course of the book.

I will hopefully meet some of you in the future and I really hope you enjoy reading about Billy Plimpton –The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh.

Best Wishes

Helen x 


A review Rosie Watch, from a teacher's perspective;

This is a beautifully and sensitively written book about a boy with a stammer. A boy who desperately wanted to lose the stammer in order to fit in, but who realised throughout the course of the book that it is possible to stand out and fit in.

The story is written through the eyes of Billy Plimpton and it is obvious the author has a real understanding of children and stammers by the way Billy is portrayed – his worries, his way of dealing with issues, his concerns, and his techniques for dealing with his worries. The writing shows a real depth and understanding of a 12-year-old.

However, in addition to coping and managing his stammer there are many other threads running through the book that make it such a good read. There is his lovely relationship with his grandmother, Granny Bread, and the shock of her death. His relationship with his peers and his anxieties of Senior school and his very normal family life.

There is also a real feel-good factor running through the book and the outcome of how he fulfils his dreams. 

The book is so readable and approachable. I think children will love the inclusion of the many lists, such as  'the stammer survival list' and the ‘how to stay hidden list’, that he makes throughout the story and the series of memorable, if somewhat cheesy jokes. 


This would make a great class read or a book for anyone with a worry who needs a bit of a boost and who doesn’t.

Find more great classroom reads for KS2 here.

The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh Synopsis

Billy Plimpton is an eleven-year-old boy with a big dream. He wants to be a stand-up comedian when he grows up: delivering pinpoint punch-lines and having audiences hang on his every hilarious word. A tough career for anyone, but surely impossible for Billy, who has a stammer. How will he find his voice, if his voice won't let him speak?

The idea for this story came from Helen Rutter's son, who has a stammer: she wanted to write the book that he would love to read, starring a child like him. 

The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh Press Reviews

Praise for The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh;

'This incredibly debut tugs at your heartstrings and makes you laugh out loud in equal measure. I guarantee you'll be cheering along in the final pages!' Lisa Thompson

'It's Wonder with one-liners.' Scott Evans, The Reader Teacher

'As warm and wise as it is funny.' Shappi Khorsandi

'A laugh out loud story, the like of which I've never read before.' Kerry Godliman

'This book is a great way of showing children how to be confident and winners by having a sense of humour and making others laugh.' Baroness Floella Benjamin

'This book is brilliant. It is funny, wise, kind and exciting.' Marcus Brigstocke

'So funny and joyful.' Rachel Parris

'Very funny, very touching, very truthful - a total delight to read.' Jacqueline Wilson

'Amazing' Noel Fielding

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780702300851
Publication date: 04/02/2021
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780702300851
Publication date: 4th February 2021
Author: Helen Rutter
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 360 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Humorous, Personal Social Health Economic , Personal Social Health Economic
Recommendations: Debuts of the Month, Julia Eccleshare's Picks
Collections: 30 Books with Positive Images of Disability,

About Helen Rutter

Helen lives just outside Sheffield and has worked as an actress for many years. The idea for this story came from her son, Lenny, who has a stammer: she wanted to write the book that he would love to read, starring a child like him. She hopes that children will be able to relate to feeling unheard, different from the rest and unable to find their voice.

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