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Children's Fiction General

Acting Up

by (author) Ted Staunton

Red Deer Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2010
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2010
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 13
  • Grade: 8 to 12


Sam Foster is the hero of this YA comic novel by Ted Staunton. He's six foot four, and over his high school years has adopted the Slouch - an attempt to draw less attention to himself in crucial situations. In school, for example, or when walking with friends who are much shorter. Sam's got talent - he's the drummer in a rock band named ADHD, and he's also a sometime assistant to Hope Springs' registered eccentric/blowhard J. Earl Good enough. What Sam has to figure out is how to show sufficient responsibility to finally reach the heights of "maturity" his parents hold out as a measure. Dealing with his anarchistic girlfriend Martha is one challenge - she loves breaking all the rules. In addition there are the normal hazards of drinking too much before the school dance, getting his drivers' permit, deserving the trust of his parents when they leave him and his friend Darryl alone for the weekend, completing all the volunteer hours he needs to acquire before graduation - and stick handling his way by the oppressive Mr. Tegwar, surely one of the least appealing of teachers at the high school. Sam's worst fear is letting people down - which of course means letting himself down as well. By the end of this comic novel, Sam has figured out a number of things - among them that he and his girl friend are not suited to each other, and that adults are not always as mature as they appear to be. He has absorbed some of the rules for achieving maturity, though he has not yet reached that pinnacle.

About the author


TED STAUNTON a écrit plus de quarante livres jeunesse et a contribué à la sériepopulaire Seven. Il joue aussi de la musique folk et blues. Ted se rend souventdans des écoles et des bibliothèques canadiennes. Il donne aussi un cours derédaction au collège George Brown à Toronto. Quand il n’est pas plongé dans un livre, il fait souvent de la musique avec le Maple Leaf Champions Jug Band..


Ted Staunton is the award-winning author of over forty books for young people, including Bounced, What Blows Up in The Almost Epic Squad series, the picture book Friends for Real, illustrated by Ruth Ohi, and the coauthor of the non-fiction title It Seemed Like a Good Idea . . . : Canadian Feats, Facts and Flubs, with his son Will. A busy and popular presenter at schools across Canada, Ted also teaches writing at George Brown College in Toronto, and is a roots/blues musician in whatever time is left over. Visit him online at


Ted Staunton's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"There isn't a character in this book who won't remind you of somebody you know, and they aren't superficial or two dimensional. Staunton also does an excellent job of capturing how teens think and speak, and the teenage voices feel authentic. The plot moves along at a swift pace and will easily appeal to reluctant teenage readers. Filled with action and humour, it's enjoyable to read. Much of the story is absurd, but it never becomes unbelievable. It isn't difficult to imagine that everything Sam experiences throughout the novel could happen, and readers will sympathize with Sam's mounting frustration as he keeps getting into trouble. Content wise, the novel is pretty clean, but issues of sex, drinking and drugs make this more appropriate for an early teenage audience than middle school readers.
Highly Recommended."
CM Magazine

"While maturity may remain elusive for Sam, readers won't have any trouble finding laughs in this sly, wining tale. Chuckles galore."
Kirkus Reviews

"Staunton has written a fast-paced coming-of-age novel that flows well. Teens will easily identify with the main characters and the hilarious antics that take place as he achieves maturity. There is mention of the effects of drinking alcohol and references to drug taking, but it is within the context of the story. Although it is part of the Hope Springs series, this novel could be read as a stand-alone book."

"Staunton strikes a believable chord as the characters develop. . . Mostly comic with relatable, embarrassing situations and a cast of characters trying to figure out what they want and how to communicate with one another, it also has a few deeper notes that lend some weight to the plot. Though the outcomes of some plot points are a bit predictable, Staunton's overall story and creative collection of teenage mishaps makes it a good, solid read."
School Library Journal

Librarian Reviews

Acting Up

It’s always a pleasure to read a new Ted Staunton book and Acting Up is perhaps his best to date. Sixteen-year-old drummer Sam Foster (previously seen in Hope Springs a Leak and Sounding Off) is working very hard at being mature. If he can convince his parents of his maturity, they will let him take driving lessons during March Break and spend a couple of days alone while they go skiing.

Maturity, however, seems harder to exhibit when he accidentally destroys the Family Studies mechanical baby during a performance with his band ADHD, or drastically misjudges the effect of rum and Coke before a school dance. With each transgression, he manages to avoid the worst punishments. Instead, however, he is given more and more “volunteer” hours to perform, forced to commit his drumming talents to the school musical his father is directing and named the youth representative on the local committee to honour the town’s irascible but famous novelist. Added to the mix is a rebellious girlfriend who wants to cause more trouble, the terrifying teacher Mr. Tegwar (known as the Teginator) and the family gossip that tells him far more about the residents of his small town than he wants to know.

Staunton has a marvellous eye for funny situations — whether it’s the Survival Slouch perfected by the 6’4” Sam as he tries to slide inconspicuously into any room full of adults, Sam and his friend Darryl’s inspired use of irons to toast peanut butter sandwiches (the toaster having inexplicably stopped working while in their care) or Sam’s driving lesson which slowly and inexorably builds to a horrifyingly embarrassing climax. Yet Staunton also beautifully conveys Sam’s confusion in handling life, his occasional moments of graceful and cool behaviour, and his growing realization that, while messing up often gets him into trouble, sometimes it also makes him hurt other people in ways he never intended.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2010. Vol.33 No.3.

Acting Up

Sam Foster’s parents want him to behave more maturely, but that’s easier said than done. Sam has an anarchistic girlfriend who loves breaking the rules and a teacher who has it in for him no matter what he does. Toss in a wild road trip, a river race, a local rock band called ADHD and Sam’s desire for a weekend on his own and you’ve got the makings of a hilarious teen novel.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2011.

Other titles by Ted Staunton