Have You Heard The One About The Boy On The Spectrum Who Published His Own Joke Book?

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Jokes Abound In Teen’s Book

WEST BOYLSTON — “Where does a frog go when he gets hurt? The hops-pital.”


Matthew Coppola and Children’s Librarian Sue Smith with one of Matthew’s favorite Beaman Library attractions, Page 5, the gerbil mascot of the children’s room.

If you liked that joke, there’s more than two dozen like it to be found in a new book, donated to the Beaman Library recently by its author, West Boylston resident Matthew Coppola.

“Matthew’s Joke Book,” a collection of one-liners, is the finished work of 15-year-old Matthew Coppola, of West Boylston.

Coppola is now a student of the League School of Greater Boston, a residential and day school for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. But his passion for writing and illustrating books dates back to his days at Major Edwards Elementary School. In fact, he published his first book, “This is a Story about Timmy the Alligator,” in the computer lab at Edwards.

“Matthew’s Joke Book” also has its roots in school.

“I made them up in my head,” Matthew said. And, with jokes ready to go, he spent a portion of his Monday mornings at school sharing those jokes with his classmates.

With positive reception, Matthew then set out to merge his passions, writing jokes and illustrating, into what would be his fifth book.

“I like making books,” he said. “I just like writing.”

And what motivates Matthew to write is his friends. For example, one of his past works, “The Stubborn Carrot,” was written as a gift for his class at school, and made use of spelling words to tell its story.

And when he had the idea for a joke book, he knew exactly who he should share it with, his favorite librarian, Sue Smith.

“She thought it was funny,” he said. She agreed.

“The book is very funny,” Smith said. “When we got it, we all sat here and read it and laughed.”

Smith called the donation a “nice surprise.”

“Matthew comes fairly frequently,” she said. “We had no idea the book was coming until it was presented to us. He is always telling us jokes, and he told us he was always telling jokes at school, so we said ‘you should publish them.’ Then he presented the book to us.”

And “Matthew’s Joke Book,” published, according to the liner notes, by “Mom’s Printer,” is not the first book from one of his family members to find a home at Beaman.

The “Mom” of publishing renown, JoAnn Miller, self published a cook book filled with recipes for Italian Cookies titled “The Cookies that Sonny Likes.”

The recipes are rare finds, cookies that are not necessarily carried in bakeries, but are passed down through families. It includes the stories behind the cookies.

“The title comes from a bakery in Brooklyn,” Miller said. “It is based off one of the many stories I heard while researching recipes.”

Ariana Coppola, a recent West Boylston High School graduate, collaborated with Smith a few years ago to create a photo book that would preview a trip to Beaman for children with autism. Knowing ahead what to expect makes it easier for children with autism to enter a new situation, Miller said.

“It was Sue’s idea,” Miller said. “She wanted to help other children on the spectrum preview their trip to the library. Ariana took all of the pictures.”

Giving back to Beaman was a natural act for a family who spends many hours there, Miller said.

“We’re very proud of all we have here at the library,” Miller said. “Our town library is the best.”



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