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. Read more...
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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.
Praise for "Twerp"
A Bankstreet Best Book of the Year
A Junior Library Guild Selection
A Summer Top Ten Kids' Indie Next List Pick
"Reminiscent of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." . . . You don't have to be a twerp to read this book." --"New York Post"
"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"
"Mark Goldblatt is an amazingly wonderful writer." --Chris Grabenstein, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library"
" Fans of] Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" who have matured beyond the scope and gravity of that series will find a kindred spirit in Julian." --"School Library Journal"
"Reminiscent of movies like "The Sandlot." . . . Well-written and funny." --"The Advocate"
"Alternately poignant and comical. . . . A thought-provoking exploration of bullying, personal integrity and self-acceptance." --"Kirkus Reviews"
"A timely book." --"New York Journal of Books"
"Elegant in its simplicity and accessibility." --"The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books"
"An empathetic and authentic glimpse into the mind of a sixth-grade boy." --"The Florida Times-Union"
"Funny, poignant, and an effective commentary on bullying and its consequences." --"The Horn Book Magazine"
- ISBN-13: 9780375971426
- ISBN-10: 0375971424
- Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: May 2013
- Page Count: 275
- Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-03-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Adult author Goldblatt (Africa Speaks) makes his children’s book debut with a coming-of-age novel set in 1969, a mix of awkward adolescent stumbling, pockets of sweetness, and oft-used tropes. Sixth-grader Julian Twerski has returned from a school suspension and accepted a deal to write a journal for his English class about what he did. As Julian avoids talking about the actual act of bullying that got him in trouble, he recounts the events of the semester in journal entries. These adventures follow the formula for the genre, ranging from uncomfortable first kisses and dates to extracurricular shenanigans (often accompanied by injuries of varied severity); an early sequence about the death of a bird is among the novel’s best and most moving segments. The crucial moment of bullying, although appalling, doesn’t quite live up to its buildup, and the familiar “bully forced to keep a journal” concept is somewhat clichéd. Occasional cultural reference aside, the historical setting doesn’t contribute a great deal to the story, but Julian’s anecdotes are entertaining and Goldblatt’s characters well-written. Ages 9–12. Agent: Scott Gould, RLR Associates. (May)
Dancing around the truth
Julian Twerski is not a bad guy. Really. That whole incident with Danley Dimple? That was a fluke. He didn’t mean for the kid to get hurt. It’s not worth going over again.
Yet, as part of his punishment, Julian has to write about it for his English teacher. From the start, he has trouble explaining the “Danley Dimple thing” and feels the need first to describe his life, his friendships—who he is. So begins Mark Goldblatt’s Twerp, an exploration of life as a 12-year-old in New York City in 1969, in the closing days of sixth grade.
We learn about the dangers of playing Cyrano for your best friend, finding out you might not be the fastest kid at P.S. 23 and making your own fireworks (with disastrous results). In fact, Julian will tell you just about anything you want to know—except for the one thing he’s supposed to be writing about. By the time he actually gets around to explaining what happened with Danley Dimple, we understand Julian, and we sympathize.
So drawn are we into Julian’s world, it’s sometimes hard to remember that an adult wrote this book. A wonderfully touching story that’s hard to put down, Twerp will appeal to readers of all ages.