My Life As a Book

( 114 )

Overview

Summer’s finally here, and Derek Fallon is looking forward to pelting the UPS truck with water balloons, climbing onto the garage roof, and conducting silly investigations. But when his parents decide to send him to Learning Camp, Derek’s dreams of fun come to an end. Ever since he’s been labeled a “reluctant reader,” his mom has pushed him to read “real” books—something other than his beloved Calvin & Hobbes.

As Derek forges unexpected friendships and uncovers a family...

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Overview

Summer’s finally here, and Derek Fallon is looking forward to pelting the UPS truck with water balloons, climbing onto the garage roof, and conducting silly investigations. But when his parents decide to send him to Learning Camp, Derek’s dreams of fun come to an end. Ever since he’s been labeled a “reluctant reader,” his mom has pushed him to read “real” books—something other than his beloved Calvin & Hobbes.

As Derek forges unexpected friendships and uncovers a family secret involving himself (in diapers! no less), he realizes that adventures and surprises are around the corner, complete with curve balls.

My Life as a Book is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When 12-year-old Derek discovers an old newspaper article in his attic about a girl "found dead" on a beach, he becomes obsessed, especially when he learn the teenager may have died saving him from the ocean when he was just a toddler. Derek is a mischievous boy who enjoys using avocados as grenades more than reading, but as he uncovers the truth about what happened 10 years ago from those who were there, he discovers he is "surrounded by stories" both tragic and inspiring. Readers may not quite understand the intensity of Derek's obsession, which takes him from his home in California to Martha's Vineyard, where the accident took place, but his story moves quickly, thanks in part to stick figures drawn in the book's margins by Derek to define "vocabulary words." Some of these illustrations, drawn by Tashjian's 14-year-old son, Jake, are quite clever ("injustice" shows two irate students reading a sign saying "School on Saturday"). Derek's concluding speech may strain credibility, but a relatable and fun format make this a smart choice for "reluctant" readers--like Derek. Ages 9-12. (July)
Children's Literature - Elizabeth D. Schafer
Stories surround Derek Fallon, age twelve, who has planned the perfect summer vacation, envisioning relaxing days playing with his dog Bodi and enjoying comic books, until reality interferes. To avoid assigned summer reading, Derek helps his mother in her California veterinary office and pursues numerous distractions. He discovers a decade-old newspaper story reporting the drowning death of teenager Susan James. Reluctant to answer Derek's questions, his mother briefly explains that Susan had been Derek's babysitter when he was two and died in a riptide after rescuing him at a Martha's Vineyard beach. Curious, Derek searches online for information about Susan. Uninterested in academics, Derek endures Learning Camp where counselor Margot encourages him to visualize stories like movies when reading books. He recognizes his talents illustrating vocabulary words and aspires to be an artist like his father, learning to use computer software to animate his artwork. While visiting his grandmother's Boston home, Derek goes to the beach where Susan drowned and meets her mother and friend. Themes of truth and self-acceptance resonate throughout the narrative, emphasizing Derek's capabilities and adaptability and revealing that people's contrasting perceptions can coexist. Derek's assigned books are never identified, with only plot and character hints suggesting possibilities. Read with Joan Lowery Nixon's Nightmare (2003), also featuring summer school students investigating a mysterious death. Reviewer: Elizabeth D. Schafer
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Twelve-year-old Derek has been identified as a reluctant reader. He likes to read, but doesn't enjoy required materials. He says he prefers having his own adventures (tossing as hand grenades the avocados his mother is saving for dinner, climbing onto the roof with a croquet set to hit wooden balls into the satellite dish) to learning about someone else's life. When his teacher gives the class summer reading and writing assignments, Derek finds a way to distract himself from the task. He discovers an old newspaper clipping about a 17-year-old who drowned, and his mother explains that the teen was babysitting him at the time and died saving him. Derek is determined to learn more about her death and his involvement in it. The margins of this book feature vocabulary words illustrated with cartoons. The protagonist is by turns likable and irritating, but always interesting. He is sure to engage fans of Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books (Abrams) as well as those looking for a spunky, contemporary boy with a mystery to solve. Reluctant readers will appreciate the book's large print and quick-paced story.—Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego
From the Publisher
“Janet Tashjian, known for her young adult books, offers a novel that’s part Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2007), part intriguing mystery; yet the best element here is really the first-person voice, which captures so completely the pushes and pulls in the life of someone with learning disabilities. . . . Give this to kids who think they don’t like reading. It might change their minds.”—Booklist, Starred Review

“A kinder, gentler Wimpy Kid with all the fun and more plot.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Sure to engage fans of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (Abrams) as well as those looking for a spunky, contemporary boy with a mystery to solve.”—School Library Journal

“[The] illustrations, drawn by Tashjian’s 14-year-old son, Jake, are quite clever.”—Publishers Weekly

My Life as a Book is a fabulous, fast-paced choice for reluctant and avid readers alike.”—BookPage

“Cartoon drawings by the author’s teenaged son decorate the margins and not only re-create Derek’s illustrated vocabulary lists but also reduce the amount of text on each page, making the book more approachable for kids like Derek. Derek tells readers, ‘If my life were a book, I’d have my own cool adventures.’ It is, and he does.”—The Horn Book

“This book is visually appealing to reluctant readers and shows that all kinds of stories can surprise us.”—Chicago Tribune

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805089035
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 7/6/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 292,309
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 880L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Janet Tashjian is the author of acclaimed books for young adults, including The Gospel According to Larry, Vote for Larry, Fault Line, and Multiple Choice. Disney adapted Tru Confessions into a television movie starring Clara Bryant and Shia LaBeouf. Tashjian studied at the University of Rhode Island and Emerson College. She lives in Needham, Massachusetts, with her family.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 114 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(83)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(6)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 115 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 6, 2011

    Childhood in a Book.

    This book pretty much sums up my childhood. It may be one of the greatest books I have ever read. Really.

    33 out of 39 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 7, 2011

    not what i thought it would be like

    I THought it would be boring i was wrong

    30 out of 38 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012

    5 stars!

    A very excellent book(:

    25 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 31, 2010

    hilarious

    I loved it.It mentioned my favorite comic 'Calvin and Hobbes'.

    25 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    Great

    I loved it.when i read it i couldnt stop and it was the sample.

    20 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    ?

    I dont really like comics like diary of a wimpy kid do u think i will like this one

    20 out of 56 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2012

    Should I?

    Looking for a good book to read! From the reviews, it sounds pretty good. Should i get it?

    17 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2012

    Awesome!

    I loved this book. May be the best Ive read. Read the sequel.

    14 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    Best book

    Best book

    13 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 12, 2011

    Ok

    Not the best book.

    10 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    Thank you

    It was the best book i have

    9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Egvdyhyhu

    Sould I

    8 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2011

    Is it like diary of a wimpy kid

    8 out of 38 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2013

    Jjook303$

    This book was really great. It's one big mystery and suspense. I reccomened this book for ages 8-13.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2012

    10/21/12

    I'm reading this book right now and Derek is litterly just llike me i hate to read but i think i actualy like this book i finily like this book and i recommend this book to every one i will stay up till 12:00 am reafing this book i love this book i can't put it done i started this book at 7:00p.m. and i'm already on page 175 out of211 pages

    5 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2012

    awesome

    I enjoyed this book. I am more of a true adventure book gal. but this was a good summer reading choice

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2012

    Alsome

    This is the best book i have out of all my 100 books


    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2014

    No

    P IS FOR POOP
    E IS FOR EVERYWHERE
    N IS FOR NICELY
    I IS FOR IDIOT
    S IS FOR SHUT UP
    btw the book sucks

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2013

    Boxer to Boxer:to "horrible"

    Do not trust samples its a good funny book

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2013

    A great and funny book for kids

    This book is great for kids.It is also funny.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 115 Customer Reviews

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