Monday, October 14, 2013

MMGM~Twerp

MMGM aka Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday was created by Shannon Messenger to give middle grade reads the attention they deserve. I'm joining in, today. If you'd like to see more MG books, Click HERE to follow other participants.


Title: TWERP
Author: Mark Goldblatt
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: Random House for Young Readers
Release Date: May 28th, 2013
Pages: 288

I'd like to thank the publisher for offering me a copy of this book for an unbiased review.

Favorite Lines/Passage: So when I say I hate Shakespeare, I mean it. Lots of guys say they hate him, and what they mean is they hate the stuff he writes. But I don't only hate the stuff he writes. I hate Shakespeare for writing the stuff. I hate the guy, William Shakespeare. If I met him on the street, I'd just keep walking. Because you know, you just know, while he was writing the stuff he was writing, he was thinking how clever he was. He was sitting at his desk, writing words, and he could've just said what he meant, but instead he prettied it up until it could mean everything or it could mean nothing or it could mean whatever the teacher say it means. (Page 17)

Description: It's not like I meant for Danley to get hurt. . . .

Julian Twerski isn't a bully. He's just made a big mistake. So when he returns to school after a weeklong suspension, his English teacher offers him a deal: if he keeps a journal and writes about the terrible incident that got him and his friends suspended, he can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. Julian jumps at the chance. And so begins his account of life in sixth grade--blowing up homemade fireworks, writing a love letter for his best friend (with disastrous results), and worrying whether he's still the fastest kid in school. Lurking in the background, though, is the one story he can't bring himself to tell, the one story his teacher most wants to hear.

Inspired by Mark Goldblatt's own childhood growing up in 1960s Queens, Twerp shines with humor and heart. This remarkably powerful story will have readers laughing and crying right along with these flawed but unforgettable characters.
"A vivid, absorbing story about one boy’s misadventure, heartache, and hope for himself." --Rebecca Stead, Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me
NIGHTSTAND WORTHY +1

My Splats: Journey inside the mind of a middle grader, as he shares his fears, regrets, and hopes through a touching journal exercise.

Just by the passage I shared with you, I think you can tell at least one reason why I enjoyed this read. What makes this book is the voice. Hands down. Julian has a unique tone to his attitudes about his experiences, I couldn't help but like him. He's bright for his age--which he seems embarrassed about--and comprehends the world around him. I loved how honest he was about his view of the world while writing in his journal.

The next element I thought of while reading was how easily middle graders could relate to Julian's position: being a watcher while negative action is taking place in front of him. Then, one of life's big choices presents itself to him: does he join in or walk away? It also gave a vibrancy to the thought we've all had--"Thank God it's not me being picked on."

Setting the story during the 1960s worked, eliminating distractions from all our technological devices of today; it gave the story a direct focus on Julian's issues at hand.

His thoughts in his journal were always addressed to his teacher, which gave an intriguing glimpse at student/teacher relationship. The more he wrote about events during his days the more intimate and in tune with himself he became. It was wonderful watching his maturing process. Of course, there was plenty of the average and expected events that happen to him as a middle grader. Girls, rough-housing with the boys, and other growing pains that make this book interesting.

I'd recommend this book to any MGer who likes older settings and a more personal view inside a character. There's not much fantasy or adventure, so I wouldn't recommend it to those kiddos.

Read any good MG books, lately? Did you have a book or series of books during your MG years that you could relate to your own life?

26 comments:

  1. This sounds like a great book. I love reading about the 60's. And I've seen this one around and heard great things about it. I just finished Exile but Shannon Messenger. That's another great book.

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    1. That's book II in her MG series, right? I read the first one. It wasn't what I expected, but it was awesome!

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  2. I had not heard of this one. Thanks for recommending it!

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    1. Ooh, I educated you. ???? Now that's a switch. LOL

      Psst...I am so stinking excited for your MG! I want to read it!

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  3. Interesting title. The two MG manuscripts that I've written happen in the 1960s - I seem pulled to that decade too. Thanks for the review, sounds like a good book.

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  4. Tweeted and shared!

    Have a chocolate filled day!

    Hugs and chocolate, of course,
    Shelly

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  5. I'll be interested how the character compares to last year's 1960's male protagonist, Jack Gantos, from Dead End in Norvelt. Thanks for your great reveiw.

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  6. Sounds interesting. I'm curious if this age group likes reading about older times. I've been out of the classroom for too long.

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    1. I actually wondered the same thing, Kelly.

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  7. I like your take on who to recommend this book to. Maybe you should be a librarian too; I think you can squeeze it in. :-)

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  8. Twerp was a tough book for me to read. It stole my heart and never returned it.
    I recently finished The Rock of Ivanore and it was a good fantasy read.

    ~Akoss

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  9. Not my kind of book, but it's a funny title.

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  10. I liked this one a lot, too. I didn't think that the "historical" setting was too strong -- just enough to be different, but there was no real focus, like civil rights or anything, so I don't think it would be either a draw or a negative for them.

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  11. The title certainly got my attention and the description is very interesting. I would like to think this story would be great for boys to inhale and probably understand - no matter what the time period - where this MC is coming from.

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    1. Yes. I agree, and especially for boys. Can't have enough reads for MG boys.

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  12. The hating Shakespeare thing is an unusual approach to take for a book, and I'm guessing the author did it to make the character more realistic. It's certainly seemed to work. Great review, Sheri! :-)

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    1. Thanks. I think you're right. Using that tactic definitely made the MC feel more real.

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  13. Ooh...this looks like a good one! Just added it to my to-read!

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    1. That's awesome!

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Britney!

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  14. I love contemporary historical, and NYC books set outside of Manhattan. First-person present tense makes my eyes glaze over more often than not, but if it's that POV/tense combo because most of it's in journal entries, I'd be more likely to read it.

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  15. I've heard so much about this book. Sounds intense, but worth a read. Do you think it's Newbery material, Sheri?

    I've read LOTS of MG books lately. Featuring one of the best this week on my blog.

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    1. Oh geez, Joanne. I don't think I'm qualified to say yes or no. However, it definitely has the 'feel' of previous winners. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your comment. I always enjoy when you stop by!

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  16. I spent my early childhood in Queens in the 1970s. I wonder where exactly it takes place. Between that fact and your review, I have to get it!

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    1. Gosh, now that you mention it, I'm sure there was mention of a specific place. I just don't remember.

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  17. Wow, that sounds like a great book. And Queens? Yikes. I'd like to have seen it in the 1960's. No doubt it was about a hundred times cleaner than it was while we lived there. In fact, our neighborhood might have been THE neighborhood at that time. I think I'm going to have to read this one.

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