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This Journal Belongs to Ratchet
     

This Journal Belongs to Ratchet

4.6 11
by Nancy Cavanaugh
 

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Move over Diary of A Wimpy Kid—there's a new journal in town and it belongs to Ratchet

Meet Ratchet, an 11-year-old girl who knows more about spark plugs than sleepovers. Homeschooled by her mechanic-environmentalist dad, and with her mother long dead, Ratchet only wants one thing: to belong.

This is Ratchet's journal and in its

Overview

Move over Diary of A Wimpy Kid—there's a new journal in town and it belongs to Ratchet

Meet Ratchet, an 11-year-old girl who knows more about spark plugs than sleepovers. Homeschooled by her mechanic-environmentalist dad, and with her mother long dead, Ratchet only wants one thing: to belong.

This is Ratchet's journal and in its pages are Ratchet's writings, her poems, and her drawings. Together, they tell Ratchet's story. It's a story about trying to make friends, about fighting to save a park, about the memories of her mother, and about her unlikely friendship with a boy. This journal is her sanctuary. And it's always there for Ratchet when no one else will listen.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eleven-year-old Ratchet records her observations, complaints (“Everything in my life is old and recycled”), worries, and goals (“To be a girl who fits in—hopefully one with a friend”) in a series of writing exercises for her language arts “class” (she’s homeschooled by her single father) in Cavanaugh’s debut novel. But fitting in is difficult for a girl nicknamed after a mechanic’s tool, who doesn’t have a mother, doesn’t attend a “real” school, and spends her days helping her “crazy environmentalist” father fix cars. Worse, her father’s outspoken political views have won him the wrong kind of publicity around town, and his battle to save Moss Tree Park from becoming a strip mall looks like a lost cause. Cavanaugh uses bold, often humorous first-person narration to capture the essence of an unconventional heroine struggling to figure out who she is supposed to be. Ratchet’s journal—written on lined paper and filled with a medley of lists, poems, stories, essays, and doodles—offers an enticing blend of strong social views, family secrets, and deeply felt emotions. Ages 9–up. Agent: Holly Root, Waxman Leavell Literary Agency. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"A book that is full of surprises . . . Triumphant enough to make readers cheer; touching enough to make them cry." - Kirkus

"Cavanaugh uses bold, often humorous first-person narration to capture the essence of an unconventional heroine struggling to figure out who she is supposed to be. Ratchet's journal-written on lined paper and filled with a medley of lists, poems, stories, essays, and doodles-offers an enticing blend of strong social views, family secrets, and deeply felt emotions." - Publishers Weekly

"One of the freshest new voices I've heard in a while, 11-year-old Rachel (AKA Ratchet) is handy with tools, homeschooled, and the kind of vulnerable kid you'd love know. A book for young readers to enjoy, discuss, then read all over again, this debut novel is a winner. " - Augusta Scattergood, Author of GLORY BE, an Amazon Best Middle Grade Novel of 2012

"The book's journal format, which shows Ratchet writing in various styles as she completes her language arts assignments, allows debut author Cavanaugh to cover a lot of ground thematically. Ratchet is a thoroughly relatable character whose wish for normalcy will strike a chord with readers." - Booklist

"Bottom line: I cannot imagine a middle grade classroom or library where this book wouldn't be popular. " - Colby Sharp, sharpread

"This heartfelt story of an 11-year-old girl being raised by a very different single dad . . . Ratchet is a memorable heroine; the vivid portrayal of what it's like to have no money for nice clothes and other things Americans take for granted will give readers something to think about." - The Buffalo News

Kirkus Reviews
An 11-year-old home-schooled girl who longs to live like everyone else learns that her strange life with her father may be weird, but it's also wonderful. Ratchet, whose real name is Rachel, lives with her father, a "crazy environmentalist," who believes that he has a God-given mission to save the Earth. In consequence, Ratchet, who lost her mom when she was 5, wears thrift-shop clothing and helps her father repair cars in their driveway. This makes her both an able mechanic and a magnet for the derision of the neighborhood kids. Ratchet longs to go to school, to buy cute clothing and, most significantly, to make a friend. In a book that is full of surprises, it turns out that assisting her protest-junkie father in his court-ordered community service as a go-cart–building instructor is the catalyst she needs. This is how she will find female helpers and role models, make a friend and even save a little piece of the world. The story has a gimmick; it consists entirely of entries in the language-arts notebook Ratchet uses to record her home-school assignments. At first it seems artificial, with observations that are too on-the-nose. But as the novel's unexpectedly multifaceted plot comes together, it becomes increasingly compelling, suspenseful and moving. Triumphant enough to make readers cheer; touching enough to make them cry. (Fiction. 9-13)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402281068
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
04/02/2013
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
966,811
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Writing Exercise: Write about your life.
Writing Format—FREEWRITING: Writing openly and freely on any topic.

Everything in my life is old and recycled.

* The kitchen table and chairs—Salvation Army.

• Living room furniture—AMVETS.

• TV—Motel 8's going out of business giveaway.

Even worse, I look like I belong in a museum of what not to wear with my Goodwill store clothes.

Dad's motto: "If the Good Lord wanted us to throw everything away, he would've put a Dumpster right outside the Garden of Eden."

I want to say, "Not likely, Dad"; but I don't argue with him. Especially when he's talking about the Good Lord.

Even so, I wish we'd lose all this junk so we could start over. Because it's hard to look good in faded T-shirts that are too big. Jean shorts that are out of style. And my blond hair with no style at all thanks to coupons at Super Snips.

Today could be a day to start over. It's the first day of school for all the kids in the neighborhood. But not for me. I'm homeschooled. That means nothing new.

*No new book bag.
*No new clothes.
*No new shoes.
*No friends—new or old.

Just Dad and me and a bunch of smelly old textbooks from the library book sale. And a garage full of broken-down cars that need fixing.

So I sit at the chipped and dented kitchen table doing my assignments. Wishing I were in a real classroom. With real classmates. And a real teacher.

A teacher who says, "Good morning," and smiles.

A teacher who reads my assignments and writes "Great job!" and "Way to go!" on my papers with glitter pens and funky colored markers.

Dad just glances at my work without really reading it. I know he doesn't really read it because one time for a social studies paper I wrote, "Abraham Lincoln's nose is bigger than his hat," two hundred times. Dad put a check mark at the top of the paper and wrote, "Keep the engine running!"

It was proof that Dad did not really read my work and even more proof that Dad is really out there somewhere on some automotive planet all his own because who would write, "Keep the engine running!" on top of a paper about Abraham Lincoln?

As long as I do my homeschool work, Dad thinks he's being a great teacher.

Dad's out in the garage yelling, "Ratchet!"

I don't think he's ever called me by my real name, Rachel. At least not since I can remember. Says I've always reminded him of a ratchet the way my help makes all his jobs easier.

I've been fixing cars with him since I was six.

Dad yells again, "I could use a hand out here!"

So I'll put down my pencil, even though I hate to because it's new. It's real wood. (Not the fake plastic kind.) Purple sparkles. A super sharp point. And a perfect eraser. But I'll put it down anyway and go out to the garage and hand Dad tools for the rest of the afternoon.

What would I rather be doing? Getting off a real school bus with some real school friends after a real day of school.

What will I be doing? Maybe a brake job or a transmission flush or a fan belt replacement. Hopefully not another oil change. My hands are finally almost clean from the one we did last week.

None of the things an ordinary eleven-year- old girl should be doing. But when your nickname is Ratchet, you're not an ordinary girl.

Meet the Author

Nancy J. Cavanaugh has a BS in education and an MA in curriculum and instruction with multiple published works. She was a teacher for more than fifteen years and currently works as a Library Media Specialist at an elementary school. Nancy lives in Tarpon Springs, FL with her husband and daughter. Visit www.nancyjcavanaugh.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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This Journal Belongs to Ratchet 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book people should really buy this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! It was a heartwarming tale told through the eyes of a girl who wants just one thing--to fit in. We follow her struggles and triumphs through various experiences via her journal entries. Each 'chapter' was written in the form of a different style of writing under the guise of one of Ratchet's home-school writing assignments--poetry, prose, free writing, interviews, etc. It was effortless to connect to Ratchet, which is essential in any good book. Although I am no longer a middle-grade reader (I wish!), I found that I simply could not put this book down! It was funny, touching, heartfelt, and simply a great read. Nancy J. Cavanaugh really has hit the nail on the head with this one, and I can't wait to hear more from her!. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ratchet is a consistently interesting and endearing main character, and her journal, which includes poems and even a creative writing project, is great fun. A terrific book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sticky ewwy junky book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is awesome i have a secret i want to tell you that im almost like Rachet whose real name is Racheal
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This jounral belongs to Ratchet is a good book.I love this book because it's full of happiness and friendship.The story made me feel hope.You guys should read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's really awesome that it changes from the beinging to tje end because Rachet becomes more indepent so that she can do meore things and this 8 year old boy likes her so that's really cool that she can have a persin that lives close to her and so it helps because she has no sisters or brothers so it's nice to have and it's because he comes to her graudution that's really nice
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must-read for all teen girls and boys.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH IT MADE ME CRY. :')
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ratchets real name is rachel, and haveing the nick name of a garage tool, you're not her definition of normal.