Thursday, November 21, 2013

Twerp by Mark Goldblatt - ESSENTIAL

Goldblatt, Mark Twerp, 274 pg., Random House Children’s Books, 2013. $16.99.

Language: PG (5 swears, 0 “f”); Content: G; Violence: G.

Sixth grader, Julian Twerski, nicknamed Twerp by his best friend, Lonnie, is newly back to school after a week-long suspension -- for what, we don’t know. His English teacher offers him a chance to write something, “and it has to be long,” in order to waive a report on Julius Caesar, and the reader suspects it’s also for an underlying reason, of which Julian seems fully aware. Julian accepts the offer, and in an effort to sidetrack from the real objective, chooses to review parts of his life with his friends -- all the while leading up to the story his teacher really wants to hear. Through it all, he worries about protecting his spot as the fastest kid in school. 

The tone was so personal, I sometimes felt I was in a private conversation with Julian. Of course, the whole story is leading up to the sad thing that happened to Danley Dimmel. You’ll smile, you’ll laugh, and probably cry, as Julian grows up, builds character, and learns to think for himself. A great book with well-drawn characters, a book that will find a home with readers of all ages, was inspired by the author’s childhood in Queens, New York. When I got to the end, I just wanted to hug the author for writing the book.

MS -- ESSENTIAL, HS -- ADVISABLE.  Reviewed by A. Curtis

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