don’t call me ishmael! (facebook Page: Don’t Call Me Ishmael – Michael Gerard Bauer

“There’s no easy way to put this, so I’ll say it straight out. It’s time I faced up to the truth. I’m fourteen years old and I have Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome. There is no cure.”

And there is no cure for not fitting in. But that won’t stop Ishmael and his intrepid band of misfits from taking on bullies, bugs, babes, the Beatles, debating and the great White whale in the toughest, the weirdest, the most embarrassingly awful … and the best year of their lives.


Somehow my brain refuses to produce the appropriate superlative for this book. “Absolutely hilarious” is altogether too feeble (CBCA SA Branch Newsletter)

Highly recommended for anyone who has been in, or is approaching, Grade 9. (Magpies) 

This second novel by the 2005 CBC award winner should come with a health warning: To save embarrassment don’t read this book on the bus. A wonderful book about friendship and being 14 and falling for (and on) girls, with characters that burst off the page and dialogue to die for. (The Advertiser)

This is an incredibly well structured and intelligent book by the author of The Running Man. The language is clever, cheeky and humorous. The characters are original and convincing and the tone is light-hearted throughout. The story has strong themes; coping with bullying is an important issue for today’s youth and is addressed with reality and truth. (Goodreading – 5 Star review) 

Don’t Call Me Ishmael! is hugely entertaining, delightfully funny and enormously insightful …Not to be missed by readers aged 11 and up. (Sunday Tasmanian) 

(A) delightful account of a boy’s journey through year nine. This is a humorous book that will have readers laughing out loud. Teen readers will love Ishmael and his friends and this book is sure to win accolades. (YA Review)

There are laughs and lots of them. I suspect the author will reach an even wider audience with this charming, breezy novel. The Michael Bauer Syndrome continues to have appealing side effects (Viewpoint) 

One could roar laughing at the comic accidents and the hilarious reactions to the several crises which occur. (An) excellent school story told close-to-life with warmth and hearty humour. Highly recommended to any reader, particularly to those reluctant readers. (Reading Time) 

Bauer wonderfully captures the enclosed and all-important world that school represents for most 14 year olds. It’s an engrossing read – a good recommendation for boys in particular – with plenty of themes for discussion. (Bookseller & Publisher) 

This novel had some of the funniest scenes I have read in ages, while still dealing with serious issues. (Abbey’s Books)

 This book is perfect for 11 to 13-year-old boys and girls and is a motivating and hilarious read. (Newcastle Herald)

Wildly different: comic and colourful. (Weekend Australian) 

This … is teenage angst but written with a flair and vigour of language which is invigorating and very, very funny. There is a vibrancy about this book and a love for words, both spoken and written which is infectious. (Austral Ed Book News)

Truthful, life-affirming and devastatingly funny. Don’t Call Me Ishmael is a triumphant coming-of-age novel. (

What we were looking for was a book that was both appealing to children, and, demonstrated that they can, through their actions, resolve conflicts in positive ways for all involved ie a book that children will want to read and which also provides a model on which children can base their own behaviour. This book had it all – it was funny, engaging, well written and the main character, Ishmael, actively chose to behave in ways which would help rather than damage both his friends and his adversary. It was the unanimous and clear choice by all of the eight judges on the panel. (Prue Blaikie, from SA PFP)

See German video review by BiBukimi here.


blog 8: In which I say Thanks a lot Herman!

blog 61: In which Ms Heckenvaal waltzes onto Centre Stage.

blog 52: In which I post some lost scenes from Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel.

blog 40: In which I revel further shocking secrets from the Ishmael Triolgy.

blog 37: In which I reveal twelve shocking secrets about DON’T CALL ME ISHMAEL.



Original Aust Edition                  Updated Aust Edition                        Italian Edition


German Edition                                   USA Edition                        Czechoslovakian Edition


French Edition  (2011)                   UK Edition (2012)              Italian School Edition

scan0127  scan0158

Hebrew Edition (2013)           Italian paperback ed (2014)


  • Children’s Book Council of Australia: Book of the Year Older Readers: Shortlisted (2007)
  • Children’s Book Council of Australia: Junior Judges Award: Winner (2007)
  • Children’s Peace Literature Award: Winner (2007)
  • NSW Premier’s Literary Awards: Shortlisted (2007)
  • Included in the White Ravens selection for Outstanding International Books for children and young adults. (2007)
  • South Australian Festival Awards for Children’s Literature: Winner (2008)
  • Finalist in the Premio Cento di Letteratura per Ragazzi (Centro Award for Children’s Literature) middle school category (2010)
  • Honour Book Michigan Thumbs Up! Award (2008)

TEACHERS NOTES: Scholastic Australia

56 Responses to don’t call me ishmael! (facebook Page: Don’t Call Me Ishmael – Michael Gerard Bauer

  1. Georgie says:

    After reading this novel in high school am I now trying to get a copy to show my students. However, I am struggling to find the eBook version of Don’t Call Me Ishmael that I can purchase and access on a Windows computer with out the need to download any additional apps for my students.

    Could you point me in the right direction?



    • mgbauer says:

      Hi Georgie. Sorry to say but I don’t know much about the eBook version of DCM Ishmael. I’ve seen them available on Amazons and other places but I’ve never had to download one so I’m not aware of what it entails.


  2. renate chandler says:

    Dear Michael,
    after listening to the German audiobooks at least 10 times, I now bought the books in English to fully enjoy the story. Thank you so much for these great characters. If only everybody had a friend like Ishmael. I’m looking forward to reading “the pain,my mother,….”, I’m sure it will have equally well developed figures in it.
    Keep on writing, and if you ever come to Germany keep me posted.
    Thanks again, Renate

    Liked by 1 person

    • mgbauer says:

      Hi Renate. Thank you so much for taking the time to write. It’s lovely to hear that you enjoyed the Ishmael stories. Jens Wawrczeck does a fantastic job with the audio versions. I hope you like The Pain as well if you get around to reading it. I’ve been to Germany a couple of times but the last was way back in 2010 when I was a guest at the White Ravens Festival in Munich. I would love to return and I’m hoping I might be able to do so in the next year or two. Cheers, Michael


  3. Nichole Lubcke says:

    Hi Michael,
    I am using ‘Don’t call me Ishmael’ as a novel study with a class of year 8s. I’m sure you can imagine the groans and sighs when I revealed we were to read a novel. We did some pre-reading activities looking at Moby Dick and analysing the cover artwork and we are presently about 2/3rds of the way through the book. You’d never guess that they sit in absolute silence as I read and laugh at the appropriate moments (especially at the inventive name calling!) and complain when I stop reading for the lesson. It has been a fabulous text to teach and I have some reluctant readers thoroughly enjoying your book, so thank you.


    • mgbauer says:

      Hi Nichole
      Thank you so much for taking the time to send that feedback. As an ex-English teacher it means a lot to me to hear that the book is working well for you and the class. I really enjoyed writing that book and the sequels and it was a sad day for me when Ishmael’s school years finally came to an end. Please say Hello to your class from me. If you want to tell me the name of the class and school I’ll post a photo and message to them on my author facebook page at Michael Gerard Bauer Author. Or alternatively if you want to send an email address to I’ll send the photo there.
      Cheers & thanks again


  4. Julian H. says:

    Hi Michael,
    I am Julian and I live in Berlin/ Germany. I am doing a book report on the German version of “Don’t Call Me Ishmael”. I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed reading it. I thought that the book was very funny and witty. I loved your main characters and I’m sure a lot of boys can relate to them. Looking forward to reading books 2 and 3 in the series!
    Best wishes from Berlin,


    • mgbauer says:

      Hi Julian. Thanks so much for those kind comments. Great to hear you enjoyed the first Ishmael. Hope you like the others just as much. Maybe more! I visited Munich a few years ago for a festival and had a wonderful time. Would love to get to Berlin one day. Carl Hanser in Germany do such wonderful editions of my books for which I am very grateful. Cheers Michael


  5. asdfghj wertyuiop says:

    Great book!!


  6. Alana says:

    I have to write an essay on the positive and negative language used in this book and dont know what to write


    • mgbauer says:

      Hi Alana
      I’m afraid I don’t do homework or assignments anymore and I’m sure your teacher what rather you answer that than me so I would definitely go to them for help and guidance on this one. But maybe you could start to think about the way different characters use language – like Barry B for example or the boys in their debates – and ask whether it’s constructive and helpful or destructive and hurtful.
      Good luck with the essay.


  7. Anonymous says:

    I just love this series, had to read the first one for school, but then just got totally hooked on it, and had to go buy the other 2 straight away. I have but one mere question though, is there ever going to be a fourth one???
    I’m hoping so, as I’m going to find it hard to find anything else as good as the current three in the series to read.


    • mgbauer says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write and for the great feedback. Sorry to say it, but I don’t think there will be a 4th Ishmael now that their school days are over. I loved writing the series and was sad myself when I wrote the final scenes of book 3. The only thing I can offer you is some deleted scenes from Hoops of Steel. You can read them on blog 61 and 52. I do have a new YA book of a similar style coming out in May, but this time the narrator is a 15 yr old girl. Cheers Michael.


  8. mgbauer says:

    It certainly is in the end of the final book of the Ishmael trilogy (which is actually the second last chapter).


  9. johnlmalone says:

    I don’t know,Michael, whether the ending of your novel is in those first few paragraphs but if Aristotle is right ……


  10. Zhiwei Huang says:

    It’s a such nice book. This is the first book I have ever read by an Australian. I really love this story, it makes me recall of my younger years…Hope to read more books by you!


    • mgbauer says:

      Thank you so much for your positive feedback. So glad you enjoyed the story. There are many great Australian books/ writers for you to discover!


  11. johnlmalone says:

    it’s a great opening, Michael. I may have to read this book 🙂


  12. jesse says:

    the book is cool I have to do an assignment on it


  13. Romy says:

    Do you know of a good place to find an online copy of the first book?
    I love your writing and your funny ways.
    Thanks a heap,
    Romy (year 7)


  14. Evie says:

    Loved this book!
    Read it in year 8


  15. Olivia Bartlett says:

    Love the book no words can make me happy other then Ishmael and his interesting ride in life hope i can read the next 2 books


  16. Oisin says:

    Possibly the best 2 books ever! Can’t wait to get my hands on the 3rd one!


  17. Samantha says:

    This book was never what I expected ( 1st one ) We got it handed to us for our assessment, at first it didn’t seem all to exciting. But after the first chapter I was hooked! Seriously funny and suspenseful. We have to write a diary entry about an event that happened as a character other than Ishmael. I have chosen Barry Bagsley; over the incident where James Scobie and Barry Bagsley banter when the teacher is out. I think it should turn out great! Defiantly a great read!

    ~ Sam
    ( Grade Eight )


    • Josh says:

      Hey! I have the same situation. You define the book like you took the words out of my mouth. But also I would like to add the ‘difficulties’ Ismael come across are very comedic and just plain hilarious! Thanks for the read, one of the best ever

      ( Grade 9 )


    • mgbauer says:

      Hi Sam. Thanks! Hope the diary entry goes well for you.


  18. Nancy says:

    Hi, it’s Nancy here again. Thanks for your reply. Now my younger son is also reading your Ishmael series. He loves it. It’s so funny that we all laugh out loud. My older son has chosen “Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel” to do his English assignment (your own choice of book to do a book summary in PowerPoint). Thanks for your books to bring the whole family laughter! I was the first to read the book but last to finish (Hee…busy mother…but mainly because I enjoy so much that I want to read it slowly). About the box set, I seriously hope Scholastic will consider and sell it in the book club (Hee.. in a good price!!). So more people can enjoy your books!

    Oatley, Sydney


    • mgbauer says:

      Hi Nancy
      The family that reads together, succeeds together! Wish your son the best of luck on his assignment. Tell him I’m sure it will be, in the words of Razz, ‘totally rigid!’
      I must keep mentioning the box set idea to my publishers!


  19. Nancy says:

    My kids are so happy to see your reply. My older boy is in Year 8 and after reading your Ishmael series, he chose the Ishmael and the hoops of steel for his English assignment. I’m reading Don’t call me Ishmael and don’t want to finish it quickly cause it’s so funny. I will definitely recommend your books to others. Looking forward to reading more funny books from you.


  20. Nancy says:

    My kids and I love the book!! Hope Scholastic Book Club will sell the whole series (3 books in one box) to the School kids.


  21. TIMB1234 says:



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  23. tommi civili says:

    I’m from Marist and at the english info night Michael came and was really funny.


  24. Joanna says:

    I don’t know what to write for an essay on teenage issues within the book. WRITERS BLOCK!


  25. BookWorm says:

    Love the entire series! I almost fell off my chair once laughing. The other time, I was laughing so much that my mum came into my room thinking I’d gone mad. Thanks Michael, it’s a definitely a book that I could never get tired of 🙂


    • mgbauer says:

      Thanks so much! I had great fun writing the series and it’s lovely to hear that you enjoyed it as well. Cheers Michael


  26. Excellent book (series)! — hilariously charming, or rather, charmingly hilarious 😉


  27. Jessie says:

    Really liked this book just finished reading it at school!


  28. kelsey says:

    Met Michael at school today! hes funny! luv the book!


  29. tahlia says:

    love this book


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