Twerp by Mark Goldblatt
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.
This was a great read. Even though the story takes place in 1969, today’s students will be able to identify with Julian. Julian is a good guy. He’s smart (but doesn’t like to call attention to that fact). He gets along with others. He starts out as a follower, but grows into a leader. I know it’s cliche to say he learns from his mistakes, but it’s true. Actually, it is probably more accurate to say he learns from his environment – the good and the bad.
Julian is a very likable character. Twerp is one of those stories that both young adults and adults alike will enjoy.
It is an excellent resource for a classroom unit on journal writing. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a good read. I’m considering using it for my 4th/5th Grade Book Detectives in the fall.