Like Adrian Mole, the famous teenaged diarist created by Sue Townsend, the unnamed hero of Maureen Fergus’s Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Goodlooking) Hero (Kids Can Press) is precocious and self-confident without much talent or intelligence to back up his bravado. When his family moves to Winnipeg to take over a flagging outlet of the House of Toilets, the narrator becomes part of a dispute between the local business association and a homeless mission where he works as a reluctant volunteer. His antics provoke animosity from most of his classmates, but his thoughtful insults and large collection of velour shirts earn him more admiration than he deserves. Most of the time he doesn’t actually mean well—an unexpected windfall provides the opportunity to stop eating dinner with his parents and to dine exclusively on a secret stash of fried chicken. But sometimes his actions have positive consequences, and his lack of self-knowledge is balanced by a keen eye and a quick wit. He may not have clear insight or good sense, but his passion to save the homeless mission is a funny, touching and unusually gritty story for kids.