One Thing I'm Good At [NOOK Book]


Nothing seems to be going right for Julie Dorinsky. Her best friend, Abby is hanging with the gifted crowd, while Julie's struggling to keep up in school. She can't even read the notes Abby passes her in class. It seems as if everybody, from her snooty older sister, Alexia, to her baby brother, Bean, is smarter than she is. There must by one thing she's good at.

In One Thing I'm Good At, Karen Lynn Williams has created a warm and winning ...

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One Thing I'm Good At

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Nothing seems to be going right for Julie Dorinsky. Her best friend, Abby is hanging with the gifted crowd, while Julie's struggling to keep up in school. She can't even read the notes Abby passes her in class. It seems as if everybody, from her snooty older sister, Alexia, to her baby brother, Bean, is smarter than she is. There must by one thing she's good at.

In One Thing I'm Good At, Karen Lynn Williams has created a warm and winning portrait of a young girl discovering her hidden talents.

Julie, a middle child, feels overwhelmed by problems with her schoolwork, her teenage sister's moodiness, and her father's recent heart attack, all of which make her feel dumb and useless.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Julie Dorinsky believes she is "a dumb kid who couldn't do anything right." In fact, little seems to be going right for this fourth-grader. A shaky speller and slow reader, she's afraid to show her parents her stack of "poor work" school papers and she is losing her best friend to the class snob. Things are equally rocky on the home front. Julie's father is recovering from a heart attack, so her mother has taken a secretarial job and often seems "tired or upset or busy." Once Julie's confidante, her older sister, Alexia, is now dismissive and condescending ("You are so stupid!... You can't even take a phone message!" she screams when Julie takes down a caller's name and number incorrectly). At times, the girl's ineptitude is overblown, and most readers will quickly pick up on the ways Julie positively influences her bright and likable four-year-old brother. She patiently teaches him to write his name, make a kite and dial 911. When their father passes out and the boy phones in a life-saving call for help, it becomes clear to everyone--especially Julie--that the one thing she is good at is teaching. Williams (Galimoto) delivers an encouraging message for any middle-grader short on confidence and self-esteem. Ages 8-up. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Ellen R. Braaf
Julie Dorinsky thinks she's a dumb kid who can't do anything right. She's short-tempered with her little brother, Bean, and lately, she can't get along with her older sister, Alexia. Her best friend, Abby, is hanging around with the smart kids at school, while she's struggling with her schoolwork. Her backpack's stuffed with "poor work" papers that have to be signed, but she doesn't want to show them to her parents. They have enough to worry about. Her father is recovering from a heart attack. He can't work as a firefighter anymore, so he's at home learning to use the computer. Her mom's working so hard that she doesn't have time for anything else. It takes a special friend and a family crisis to make Julie realize that she's a good artist and a gifted teacher. This is a compelling story about a young girl's journey of self-discovery.
Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Fourth-grader Julie thinks of herself as a real loser. She has trouble reading and she can't spell. She has "poor work" papers that need a parent's signature, but she doesn't want to upset her father, who has recently had a heart attack. She finds herself leading a life of lies, pretending that she's capable of reading difficult books, saying that she has finished her homework, and telling her sister that their father has already seen the test she failed. Then her teacher assigns an essay on "One Thing I'm Good At." Julie is discouraged, believing there is nothing she excels in, but when her father passes out, her four-year-old brother credits Julie with having previously taught him to call 911. She begins to feel better about herself, knowing that what she did helped to save her father's life. Williams has created a cast of realistic characters that includes a crabby teenager, a frustrated substitute, and a teacher's pet. A satisfying story with an important message about self-image.-Anne Knickerbocker, Cedar Brook Elementary School, Houston, TX Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Fourth-grader Julie Dorinsky believes herself a failure, even though she's artistically talented and a whiz at marbles. For her, those things don't count—she wants to be smart. Instead of joining the academically advanced kids on "Scholars Day," Julie is stuck doing remedial work with the "dumb kids," and a series of "poor work papers" are crumpled in her backpack, awaiting a parent's signature. At home, Julie's father is recovering from a heart attack and her mother has had to take a secretarial job to make ends meet, so the last thing Julie wants to do is upset the harried pair by admitting that she's struggling at school—that she can barely read. In the course of the story Julie finds a new friend, Marlene, and discovers—predictably—that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Williams does a credible job presenting her protagonist's confusion caused by her lack of reading ability, but the story falters in a somewhat contrived ending that turns Julie into a local hero. It may be difficult for readers to believe that the adults around Julie are unaware of her problems; her skills are too exceptionally minimal to go unnoticed. (Fiction. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062034236
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/4/2011
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 1,297,122
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

When Karen Lynn Williams was growing up in New Haven, Connecticut, her dream was to become the youngest novelist ever. At the age of ten, she formed a writing group with some of her friends. They would lounge around on pillows and in old stuffed chairs in her basement and write for hours. When Karen hadn't produced the hoped-for novel by the age of twelve, she gave up on her dream of early publication, but not on writing. Although it took longer than she initially thought it would, eventually Karen became the award-winning author of such books as Baseball and Butterflies (a novel) and Galimoto and Painted Dreams, both picture books illustrated by Catherine Stock. Karen Lynn Williams lives with her husband, Steven, and their children, Peter, Christopher, Rachel, and Jonathan, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"Paper, Scissors, Rock." Julie held her hand out flat, palm up.

Bean shot out two small fingers in a V. "I win," he said. "Scissors cut paper. Let's do it again." He shoved his pudgy fist behind his back.

"Okay." Julie sighed and pushed her straggly brown hair over her ear. They sat on the floor of the bedroom she shared with her younger brother. "But this is the last time." She really didn't like the game. It was boring and she always felt funny about the idea of it, the idea of power, that scissors cut paper and a rock can crush scissors. She was probably the only kid in the whole world who thought about dumb stuff like that. She placed her fist behind her back. "Ready?"

Bean smiled. His shiny black hair bounced up and down as he nodded. His eyes twinkled with anticipation. Dad had taught Julie and their older sister, Alexia, the game before Bean was even born. Now Julie was teaching Bean. He was only four, but he was real smart for his age. He learned the game in about two seconds. Bean had memorized their telephone number and address and he knew the whole alphabet and how to count to twenty.

It had been about twenty minutes since Dad left for his doctor's appointment and Julie was babysitting. Real baby-sitting. Alexia was due home soon, but for now Julie was the one in charge.

"Paper, scissors, rock."Julie made a V this time.

"I win." Bean yelled as he held out a tight little fist. "Rock crushes scissors." He giggled with excitement.

Bean was always happy. Must be because henever had homework. But Julie did. She had to get started before Mom and Dad got home. Two "Poor work" papers again today! If she started her homework without being told, maybe they wouldn't think so much about the two D papers that had to be signed. She didn't want to upset Mom or Dad. Especially Dad. Julie didn't want to do anything that might excite him. Back in September, Dad had had a heart attack. Before that, he was a firefighter. Now he stayed home and Mom worked as a secretary. Julie's stomach began to knot up the way it did every time she thought about how her father's heart had just stopped without any warning. He was better now and studying for a new job with computers, but Julie still worried.

"Okay, Bean, you find something to do. I have to get to work." She stood up, groaning. Mean Mrs. Spattelli had given the blue reading group extra work just because no one knew the definition of folly. The other kids hadn't gotten any reading homework. It wasn't fair.

"Come on, Julie, one more time."

Julie dragged her backpack over to the desk. It felt like it was filled with rocks instead of homework. "As long as you promise not to ask again." She put her right hand behind her back.

I promise." Bean sat at her feet.

"Well, come on. Get up."Julie tapped the fingers of her left hand, clicking her nails on the desktop. She had math homework, too. And she had missed lunch recess today, all because of Mrs. Spattelli.

Just because she hadn't had time to finish her English assignment in class, "Mrs. Spit" made her do it during recess, and Julie had missed the marble tournament. She hadn't even had a chance to win her best shooter back from Brian. Just thinking about Mrs. Spit made Julie feel like hitting something. Ten, twenty, thirty...She tried counting by tens to calm herself.

Bean stood up. His right hand was behind his back.

"Paper, scissors, rock." Bean held out a flat hand. Paper.

Still thinking about sitting in that hot classroom when the other kids were outside, Julie curled her fingers into a tight fist. Rock. She pounded her fist down right on Bean's outstretched hand, smacking it into the desk.

"Ouch! Julie! What did you do that for?" Tears welled up in Bean's big brown eyes.

Julie didn't know why she had done it. But she remembered Alexia used to do it to her all the time. "Don't be such a baby."

Bean sniffed. "Rock doesn't even beat paper." The tears rolled down his cheeks.

"Come on, Bean. I told you I have work to do. I played with you enough. Now you keep yourself busy. Go on over to your desk. You can pretend you're at school. Real school." Bean went to day care three days a week while Dad took his computer classes.

Julie watched her brother inch over to his side of the room. She used to share a room with Alexia, but now Alexia had moved into the small room that used to be Bean's and Bean had moved in with Julie. Julie didn't mind sharing with her brother. At least now she got to make the rules about the room and had the side with the windows. Dad was supposed to move the bookcases and Mom was going to put up a curtain to divide the room. They already had the fabric. Julie had picked it out. But that was before Dad's heart attack. He couldn't move heavy things now and Mom didn't have time to sew.

"Julie." Bean's voice was whiny. It came from right behind her, on her side of the room.


He just stood there.

"Look, I'll show you how to write Benjamin Dorinsky and you can practice." Benjamin was Bean's real name. When he was born, Julie couldn't pronounce Benjamin. She called him Bean, and the name stuck. She had taught him how to write Benjamin weeks ago, and he did great. Now his daycare teacher wanted him to practice his full name.

One Thing I'm Good At. Copyright © by Karen Lynn Williams. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2001

    One Thing I'm Good At By: Karen Lynn Williams

    In this book One Thing I'm Good At, page by page there is very interesting facts of a fourth grade girl named Julie and the troubles and great memeries through out her life. So I think that if you are ready to read a great book then read One Thing I'm Good At By:Karen Lynn Williams.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2000

    One Thing I'm Good At

    This was a very interesting book! I read this when I was in 5th grade, and still in. I looked at a caption and a three sentence summary of the problem. And once I saw that, I wanted to read it so badly. This story is about a girl who is good at something (find it out when you read it). But she has bad grades. How is she suppose to tell her parents?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2000

    One Thing I'm Good At

    Julie is a kid who's not the brightest in her class and who seems to have few skills and talents. She isn't good at reading and spelling, and her sister puts her down all the time for being 'stupid'. Julie desperately wants to find one thing to be good at. Things turn around for her when a family crisis turns out and Julie comes to know that she is good at something,teaching. She taught her brother to dial 911 in an emergency and it saved her father's life, every day she teaches people how to play marbles at school. But she doesn't know how to tell her parents of the bad grades in school. For her father just recovered from a heart attack and her mother not very well. So she doesn't want to dissapoint them at this time. I give this one a 4 because although it is lively and gets the point clearly, everything is resolved a bit too quickly. Maybe a bit more details. But still the book is well written and a very interesting to me.

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