Sunday, September 8, 2013

Books Your Kids Will Not Be Able to Put Down

I am a huge fan of books for kids that use a diary format.  In these stories, characters are free to reveal their true motivations and their unedited views on things.  I think that these revelations not only help readers develop empathy as they understand why people behave the way they do, but it is also therapeutic to know that they are not alone in some of their less than perfect feelings about things.

Oh, and who doesn't like to know other people's secrets.  Half the fun of a diary format is feeling like you get to learn about something you shouldn't, not that I'm a fan of the gossip.  No gossip here ... well there is that one thing ....

I did want to mention, for those of you with keen eyes who read me like hawk ... yes that's you ... that you may remember The Bully Book from a few months back.  I don't think my readers really gave that book enough love so I reposting it this week.  People .... yes you again .... this is a really good book and your kids will not be able to put it down.  There, I have done all I can to give you a sure thing, if you choose to ignore it, I am no longer responsible!

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Title:       Twerp

Author:   Mark Goldblatt

Target:    Grades 5-7

Series:     No

What this book is about:
Julian has done something to get him suspended.  We don’t know what it is, but his teacher has told him he can write a journal for English class this year, instead of doing the other writing assignments, as long as he examines his involvement in “the event.”  What follows is a series of stories about not only Jullian’s year, but his history and relationships with his friends.  He also stumbles on some discoveries about himself along the way - bet you didn’t see that coming.

Why I love this book: 
I loved this book!  I sat down to read it and didn’t get up until I was finished.  Julian does an incredible of job of making us actually forget about the incident, until the end of the story as he intentionally deflects the reason for writing the journal in the first place.  The stories are engaging and I got completely caught up in his life.

There are a few uncomfortable moments when Julian does some things that can be construed as mean.  However, Goldblatt does a fabulous job of making us really like this character and when we understand him, we are a little more willing to forgive him.

This book also has some downright funny moments.  Set in the 1960’s, these friends get themselves into a few very humorous predicaments.  Goldblatt does find the humor in everyday life.

Who this book is for:
I think that kids that have moved on from Diary of a Wimpy Kid or kids who enjoyed Because of Mr. Terupt will really like this story.  

Final thoughts:
Great book, great book, great book.  There you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Twerp  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Title:       This Journal Belongs to Ratchet

Author:   Nancy J. Cavanaugh

Target:    Grades 4-7

Series:     No

What this book is about:
Ratchet (aka Rachel) is homeschooled.  Her father is one of those “think green” kind of guys who wears t-shirts with strong sentiments, refuses to buy anything new and fixes cars in his garage for a living.  Let’s just say that he can be embarrassing when taken out of his environment.  Ratchet is trying to figure out how she fits in, what is important to her and how to make a friend.  This is no easy task when you don’t go to school, help your dad fix cars and your mother has been dead for as long as you can remember.

Why I love this book:
I really liked the journal format of this book.  The author lays it out as Ratchet’s language arts journal so we get to see Ratchet do poetry, a fairytale, a descriptive narrative and even meeting minutes.  It makes for a clever way to see Ratchet express her feelings.

I also liked the way that Ratchet was trying to define herself apart from her embarrassing father.  While her father may be much more extreme than most, I think that kids universally think that their parents can be an embarrassment and learning to understand them and their values is beneficial for all kids.  I also think most kids will relate to the theme of trying to understand where they fit in, and how difficult it is to find your place.

Who this book is for:
I think that most girls will enjoy this book

Final thoughts:
While Ratchet’s may have had none of the same likes that I did as a young teen, her struggles were so real that they rang true for me regardless!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: This Journal Belongs to Ratchet  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Title:       The Bully Book: A Novel

Author:   Eric Kahn Gale

Target:    Grades 4-6

Series:     No

What this book is about:
”The Book” has been passed down from sixth grader to sixth grader.   Only a few select students know about this book and it is essentially a manual on how be the most popular kid in school.  Part of this manual involves selecting one unsuspecting student to be the Grunt every year.   In this story, “The Book” and the journal from this years Grunt are intertwined, showing us the mind of the bully and the bullied.  Will our grunt be able to withstand the year and can he help others in the future?

Why I love this book:
I read this book in one day, as did both my sons.  It is a fascinating read, full of suspense.  As our grunt, Eric starts to put the pieces together and realize he is the victim of an organized attack, he tries to get to the bottom of “The Book” but more than that, why he was selected.  You are rooting for Eric throughout and hoping for the best, but human nature is not always kind.

I appreciated seeing into the mind of the original bully, although the author does not take on the issues of why other kids follow.  Gale was bullied when he was in sixth grade, and I think this is why the story rings so true.  However, I don’t want to get you too down.  While there are certainly some difficult moments, the book is so engaging and well written that despite the subject matter you will feel compelled to read on.

Who this book is for:
This book is a quick read and because of the journal format it does not feel overwhelming.  Most kids will be fascinated by this story.  Both my sons couldn’t put it down.  Good book for a reluctant reader.

Final thoughts:
I think in the end what drives this book is figuring out why Eric was selected as the Grunt.  I think we all want to make sure we wouldn’t be the one to get picked, but if we are, what can we do to not be a victim?  This book is truly a can't put down read!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Bully Book: A Novel  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you. 


  1. Thanks for taking the time to share your passion. The information was thoughtful and enticing. Our family will always be looking for that next great book.

    1. I so appreciate your nice words! Thrilled I could offer up some ideas for your family.

  2. So happy you enjoyed RATCHET! Thank you for telling other readers about it!
    Nancy J. Cavanaugh