Twerp

Overview

It's not like I meant for him to get hurt. . . .

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 ...

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Twerp

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Overview

It's not like I meant for him to get hurt. . . .

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

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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)
Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
Set in Queens, N.Y. in the late 1960s, this coming-of-age story is told by twelve-year-old Julian Twerski, and it includes a cast of characters that move in and out of his life through his sixth grade year. Julian's English teacher, Mr. Selkirk, has recognized Julian's talent for writing and has promised that he will excuse Julian from writing a book report about Julius Caesar if he will keep a diary on everything that happens for the next several weeks. Julian has five special friends who have grown up with him in their largely Jewish neighborhood. They are the ones who nicknamed him Twerp. Many of Julian's writings involve some of the typical mischief of boys this age. That is the best part of the story. Julian not only gets into some rather precarious scrapes; he actually wrestles with himself morally about it in his writings. Sometimes, his ability to see the error of his ways is a bit too sophisticated for a child this age, but it's entertaining and instructive nevertheless. It's refreshing to read about a boy struggling with girls, friendships, pride, jealousy, family, and good judgment. Along the way, Julian gives us a rich description of growing up on the streets of Queens at that time. Reminiscent of Brighton Beach Memoirs. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—After participating in an act of horrendous bullying, Julian is given the opportunity to atone for his action and lighten his punishment by writing a book throughout the year. What starts as meandering thoughts and stories about him hitting pigeons and chasing cars evolves into a story of self-realization. The bulk of it is given over to a tangled love triangle. When Lonnie asks Julian, a better writer, to craft a love letter from him to new-girl Jillian and sign it anonymously, she believes the amorous intentions are Julian's. The result leaves bitter feelings between two former best friends. As the story unfolds, Julian comes to identify what he feels is right, not just what his best friend tells him is so. This honest portrayal of 12-year-olds' lives does not gloss over the stupid, hurtful things people do to one another before their moral compasses become fully calibrated. Julian is different from his friends, as he is told throughout the book, but he doesn't see it until the end. In the denouement, he finally stands up and tries to make what he has done right. Not all readers will identify with the sometimes-despicable things the protagonist does, but those who identified with the antihero in Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (Abrams) but have matured beyond the scope and gravity of that series will find a kindred spirit in Julian.—Devin Burritt, Wells Public Library, ME
Kirkus Reviews
Twelve-year-old Julian is assigned the task of keeping a journal that details the events that led up to his suspension for bullying. In an open journal to his English teacher, Julian describes life as a sixth-grader in 1969, roaming his Queens neighborhood with a close-knit group of friends. While the descriptions and dialogue evoke a previous era, the issues Julian faces are timeless topics familiar to adolescents. Initially, Julian minimizes his responsibility for what happened to "Danley Dimmel," whose real name is Stanley Stimmel. Rather than addressing what occurred, Julian recounts his various mishaps and adventures with his friends. Alternately poignant and comical, Julian's stories encompass everything from first crushes and first dates to the purpose of his existence. He struggles with the conflicting need to be part of a group, which means coasting in his best friend Lonnie's wake, and to define himself and understand his unique place in the world. Goldblatt neatly captures that transitional stage between childhood and adolescence, deftly examining the complex dynamics of friendships and skillfully portraying Julian's evolution toward self-understanding. When Julian ultimately reveals what occurred, he describes it with devastating honesty. Julian's acknowledgement of his part in the event and his decisive actions at the story's conclusion illuminate his growing maturity. Goldblatt's tale provides a thought-provoking exploration of bullying, personal integrity and self-acceptance. (Historical fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375971457
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/13/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 741,800
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

MARK GOLDBLATT is a lot like Julian Twerski, only not as interesting. He's a widely published columnist, a novelist, and a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Twerp is his first book for younger readers. He lives in New York City.

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