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The Man in the Ceiling
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The Man in the Ceiling

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  363 ratings  ·  56 reviews

He's bad at sports and not much better at school, but Jimmy sure can draw terrific cartoons. And his dream, like that of his Uncle Lester, who writes flop Broadway musicals is to be recognized for what he loves doing most.

Paperback, 185 pages
Published June 8th 1995 by HarperCollins (first published October 1st 1993)
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Oct 06, 2008 Sandra rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Beautiful, funny, and heartbreaking, as well completely uplifting in a way that isn't cheezy or overdone. I wish I had more books like this to read when I was young. Instead I just read this one over and over and over.
Lars Guthrie
I recently attended a conference on Learning and the Brain. One of the speakers was Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford who has been doing breakthrough work on motivation and learning. In her talk--as well as in her book "Mindsets"--she referred to two types of mindsets, fixed mindset and growth mindset. Studies she's conducted show the benefits of a growth mindset, where the learner believes that intelligence is malleable and effort is the key to improving intelligence. This bears a ...more
To begin with, I think our library has this book in the wrong section. It was in the Juvenile area,and after reading it, I really think to be appreciated you need to be at least a pre-teen. The author does a masterful job of introducing us to Jimmy and his artistic thoughts and struggles. With excellent illustrations, the reader will fall in love with Jimmy. Jimmy loves to draw comics, but his father considers it useless talents. Jimmy finds that drawing for others isn't nearly as fun as doing i ...more
I think I picked this book up by accident thinking it was something else by a similar title. Boy am I glad I did. It was an easy read, and even one that didn't fully engage me for awhile. However I was so pleased with how it ended and the feeling and message of the book. Also feels very timely for me right now. Would recommend this book for anyone.
It's a middle grade novel about the bliss and despair involved in artistic creation. No, I'm not kidding. And, as if that isn't enough, it's funny and the end made me weep with joy. Brilliant.
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈
I read this once in grade school, and recently saw it sitting lonely on my shelves and decided to pick it up again as I needed something lighter, and I had mostly forgotten the plot.

I will start by saying how much I LOVE Jules Feiffer's illustrations. I became aware of him because he did the illustrations for The Phantom Tollbooth, which is still probably my favorite book of all time. I have been reading it since I was in third grade and it remains, and probably will remain the book I have read
I found this book recommended somewhere online as being funny. It is a 5.3 on the AR reading list. I found a few things to enjoy from it and a lot of little things to hate about it. I hate that the main character claims school is not important. He wants to be a cartoonist someday, and he spends all his time sketching comic sequences. None of his teachers can coax him into participating at all. I would probably be okay with it if somewhere in the novel the boy learns that the core subject areas ( ...more
Riley Conway
The Man in the Ceiling, an amusing and creatively rendered story of how “every ‘failure’ is a bit of future luck,” follows Jimmy—a budding comic book artist who yearns for the admiration of schoolyard critic Charley Beemer—and Jimmy’s uncle, who takes his crack at success on Broadway. One of the novel’s aspects that I particularly enjoy is the way in which Feiffer’s narrator often addresses the reader directly, especially to offer commentary on the illustrations. At one point, the narrator direc ...more
D.S. Thornton
I am a writer and artist who found this little gem a rewarding affirmation. When the disappointments come from critique and rejection, I think of Jimmy and how he grew. I loved how Feiffer showed the variety of personalities that affect an artist (the good and the bad). I loved how we saw other artists and how they struggle with their work and demands for their time, and how the struggling never goes away. I loved how Feiffer, a seasoned pro, drew as the boy, complete with misspellings and a sim ...more
Ilana Waters
An absolute classic, and one that should be required reading for every artist or aspiring artist. Not only does Feiffer nail what it's really like to work in a creative field, but be has a keen eye for family dynamics as well. The powerlessness that Jimmy (the main character) feels as the misunderstood middle child mirrors the artist's journey perfectly. Buy it for the talented young person in your life, or just for your own inspiration.
One of the themes of this book is failure. Jimmy is a aspiring cartoonist who thinks his father thinks he is a failure, just like his playwright Uncle Lester. This book is enjoyable because though the characters change their opinions of each other several times through the novel, the changes are realistic. I recommend this book to someone struggling with anything, because it reminds you that even small changes make a big difference.
This is, I think, the first book that I remember making me cry.

My mother bought it for my brother, I think. I ended up reading it. I don't remember much about it, honestly, but I remember re-reading it a few years after my first reading. And then a third time in my early teens. And then just today I thought of it, apropos of nothing. So it definitely stuck with me, yes.
Jason Nellis
One of my all-time favorite books. Feiffer captures that part of being young where you know just enough to understand where you don't fit in, but not enough to know how to adjust to make it easier. 20 years after reading it, I still quote parts of it.
Greg McClay
Had forgotten about this one but it just popped in my head while working on a reference question on teens and self-esteem. I enjoyed it a lot and I found the ending to be kind of profound, its a lesson I still have to learn and re-learn regularly.
Marla Milligan
This book is about a boy who has a passion for cartoons and creating them. He has a hard time fitting in at school and struggles at home. It was just ok read for me!
Inspirational. Middle grades, yet anyone can appreciate the family interactions, especially the way their differences and similarities interact.
If that is not recommendation enough,
this book has comics, anecdotal stories, musical theatre, and is inspirational.
It is about Jimmy, whose name I still can't spell after the 7 times I've read this book, who wants to be a cartoonist. He has a hard time getting to know his dad and sister or any of the kids at school, who like sports, are loud, and don't quite appreciate his art. The only person who does appreciate his art is his uncle Lester, who writes mu
Children's fiction.
Story of a young boy who cartoons, his family, uncle is a failed playwright and his relationships.
Nathan Truong
The Man in the Ceiling (1993) by Jules Feiffer is the little tale of a little boy who loves to draw comics, figuring out whether or not its something that he sees fitful in his future. It’s definitely cute, humorous, and reminded me of the times when I used to lay stomach-flat on the kitchen floors drawing away with Crayolas on college-ruled paper. Recommended read for those who love to draw comics.
K. Thomas
I had been familiar with Jules Feiffer primarily as a cartoonist and playwrite, but this book showcases his talents with long-form prose. I wish I'd read this book when I was an adolescent (though I imagine a lot of the humor and character details would have gone over my head.) This is a very unique format the way it combines drawings with words, it's definitely inspired me to track down all the Jules Feiffer books I haven't yet read.
I re-read this recently. I remembered liking it, but I didn't really remember just how good it is. The story beautiful illustrates with wry humor the struggles of being a child, of being an artist, and trying to find an outlet to express pain, anger, and powerlessness. And, in a straight forward, non sugar coated way, it says flat out: success means having to fail a couple hundred times first.

Zachary Palmer
May 08, 2013 Zachary Palmer is currently reading it
Shelves: comic
Jimmy just wants his dad to notice him. But his dad refuses to even look at him. Jimmy is different than his dad thinks he is. He's not athletic, not a sports fan matter of fact. Instead of Jimmy talking to his dad, he puts his feelings into his comics. I reccomend this book to people who love to read comics.

Zac Palmer
Marissa Morrison
I think this is one of the best books I've ever read. It's categorized as a children's book, but that's just because the narrator happens to be 10 and there's no sex or violence or difficult vocabulary in the book. The messages about generosity in a family, handling criticism, and the importance of practice for improvement are delivered humorously and with heart by Feiffer.
This was one of my favorite books as a child, back when I was convinced I would be a great cartoonist someday. After the death of the librarian who inspired me to become a librarian, too, this was given to me as a gift, so I read it for old time's sake. It's the same copy that I used to borrow from my school's library, and it really means a lot to me to have it.
Joe Basile
Sep 02, 2007 Joe Basile rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: kids at heart/comic book lovers
i absoluely adore this book. Its a young adult book that I used to use to tutor middle-school kids with. the story is unique and touching- about a boy becoming aware of his talents and gifts as an artist. the book has comic book style chapters in it that the character created. most definitely a feel good/find your place in the world type book.
Jul 07, 2010 Fiona added it
Simple, fine. I would rather have read something else, but I was on a train and puzzling over whether the man across from me was a Dutch spy, so this was adequate distraction. It's the kind of very simple coming of age story that a certain sort of person gets very into (cf. Le Petit Prince), but I'm just not in the right mood these days.
Aug 21, 2008 Tyler rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who preferred drawing and/writing to sports as a child
This is one of those rare little books that you want to hug to your chest as soon as you finish. It's sort of like an elementary school version of Stephen Sondheim's Sunday In The Park With George: a sweet and reassuring look at the creative life, and the fears and rewards brought about by the blank page.
The plot meandered a little and some plot points seemed to not develop or go anywhere. The main character's story ended up resolving nicely and in a very toughing way. It was very much in Feifer's voice and touched on the ways that adulthood subtly grinds a person down and a had wistfulness about youth.
Owen Curtsinger
A short and sweet tale for any artist or writer from one of the best. Feiffer is one of those rare authors who remembers/knows what it's like to think like a kid. Not a grand storyline, but it's a wonderful little message that's good to revisit again and again.
Dec 28, 2007 Lia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: children/ adolescents
wow. this book was the one that actually got me reading, i guess. it was a very important part of my childhood, and the way that i think.
but i cant really tell how the book is like. i forgot most of it, even do i re-read it later.
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Jules Feiffer is the acclaimed author-illustrator of several books for children, including BARK, GEORGE; MEANWHILE . . .; and I LOST MY BEAR; and the illustrator of THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, by Norton Juster. Jules Feiffer is also a renowned editorial cartoonist, playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. He has been the recipient of an Academy Award, a Pulitzer Prize, a London Theatre Critics Award, an ...more
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