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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 ...

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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: 9780375971433
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 740,234
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 1, 2013

    Review 6****** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in

    Review 6******

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

    WOW! Let me first say that this a fantastic younger YA story! I loved it!

    Julian Twerski (Twerp to his sister and friends) is a fantastic character! He is a typical 12 (going on 13) year old. He is very thoughtful and bright. Unfortunately, one mistake leads to a school suspension, and a project that really brings this character to life! I liked him very much!

    I was a bit unsure about this book when I first started it. It felt more like a memoir than a children's book. However, this book hooked me from the second page! This story follows Julian as he and his friends go about their daily business (school and play). But, he is reluctant to get to the reason as to why he was suspended from school. Given this assignment by his English teacher, Julian reveals his inner-self. His anecdotes are witty and had me smiling and giggling in places. Julian's reason for his reluctance to tell his story of the mistake was understandable. It was a terrible mistake, but a mistake nevertheless. He learnt from it, and that's the most important point. I love stories like this - with morals in them. Without morals, or at least subtle warnings, how are children meant to learn what is right or wrong? Granted, they could find out for themselves, but people (including themselves) may get hurt (either emotionally or physically) in the process. I think that today's society has lost some of these morals, and they need to be re-taught. This book would certainly help with that!

    Mark Goldblatt has written an amazing coming of age story that reminded me of my childhood (although I hadn't had the same upbringing, or made the same mistakes). It is a moving story of growing up, peer pressure and bullies. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Julian's journal, and will be on the lookout for more of this author's work in the future.

    I highly recommend this book to not only readers in the 8 to 12 age range, but to adults too! - Lynn Worton

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This was a really unique, clever and honest look at a sixth grad

    This was a really unique, clever and honest look at a sixth grade boy’s life, growing up in Queens: friends, worries, girls and eventually guilt about the bullying he was half-heartedly involved in.
    The story feels honest, and with the setting of 1969 the outside ‘distractions’ are far more direct: friends, girls, hating homework, and all of those activities you filled those hours after school with that wouldn’t and didn’t involve television or computers.
    While initially started as a way to get out of a dreaded class assignment, the journal quickly spins into a clever diary of life, interests and even concerns and guilt that Julian has. While dealing with the core issue of bullying, the author doesn’t bring in a preachy tone, or even a particularly adult tone: language use and approach is completely appropriate for a 12 year old, and would provide good perspective for children in middle school. The whole story is carefully structured to appear not-so decidedly constructed, with a stream of consciousness style that is easy and enjoyable to read.
    I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review as part of the Children Read week at I am, Indeed. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2013

    It gives off the same feeling as the well known 80s film Stand B

    It gives off the same feeling as the well known 80s film Stand By Me, which is also a story about coming of age.
    This is a tale about reflection, guilt, emotional turmoil and the eternal confusion of youth.
    It has an easy comfortable flow and the reader slips easily into the mind and head of the young teenage boy.
    Julian has been given an assignment by his teacher. He is expected to write about an incident he took part in concerning a young boy with learning disabilities. Julian writes about everything except that event in an attempt to deny and deflect his own guilt and involvement.
    The chapter with the actual incident made my heart ache for boy in question, whilst I waited for Julian to do the right thing.
    The end product is a slow realisation that each person is responsible for their actions and you can either choose to acknowledge that fact or deflect onto others. In essence Julian comes to a fork in the road and he has to make a choice about which road he is going to travel upon from this point forward. The road of laying the blame elsewhere and not taking responsibility or owning his actions and decisions in life.
    Although the book features the bullying of a young boy I felt that the sub-plot was secondary to Julian actually acknowledging any wrongdoing on his part. Conceptually understanding what he did and in doing so being able and willing to make a choice.
    I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this as reading material to readers 9yrs and upwards. The book is suitable for older readers and adults also. In fact I think quite a few people who took the wrong path could garner a lesson from this book.
    I received a free copy via NetGalley.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Twerp is formatted as if it is the journal the main character, J

    Twerp is formatted as if it is the journal the main character, Julian, is asked to keep. As soon as I started reading, I wanted to know what the bullying incident involved. What happened? We don't find out for a while, but I liked the placement of those details. It gave me an opportunity to get to know Julian through his own words first, rather than letting a horrible mistake make the initial impression.

    Julian has a lot of wisdom for a kid his age. He's tenderhearted and thoughtful. He's intelligent - he goes on these little rabbit trails when he writes, and it's fascinating to read along and see how his mind works.

    Twerp shows how easily a "good kid" can get involved in something terrible. It is a coming of age story that works through the process of breaking away from peer pressure, learning to think independently, trusting oneself, and listening to the voice that tell us, "this is the right thing to do."

    Thanks to the animated and relevant voice of its main character, Twerp is certain to connect with middle grade readers. Geared for ages 9 and up.

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2014

    So good it can be a movie

    Love it has a great lesson to teach to children and fun to read

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  • Posted May 8, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I truly did not enjoy this book, however, quite honestly, I didn

    I truly did not enjoy this book, however, quite honestly, I didn’t “get” it. As I read it I kept having those feelings I had when I watch “A Christmas Story” – wondering what it is about this genre that appeals to so many. So, no, I didn’t love it BUT I do know many who will revere this book!
    Try it out — or just give to to a boy that will appreciate it ;)

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

    Posted March 9, 2014

    Musicnerd123

    I read the first 2 pages of the book and i was so bored!!!!!!! The author should have started with a big bang. I would raye this book 0 stars:( :(:(

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2014

    Is the sample the whole book?

    It seemed to be that the sample was the whole book. Is this true?

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  • Posted December 27, 2013

    I really enjoyed this book, but I think the name almost gives

    I really enjoyed this book, but I think the name almost gives it a disservice. I honestly thought it would be filled with dumb boy pranks and silly vocabulary, but I was totally mistaken. Twerp is the sometimes nickname of the mc - Julian Twerski. As he writes down his thoughts on his sixth grade year, he begins to fully understand what he "did" to earn the week-long suspension and how to finally come to terms with how to become a better person because of it. I also appreciated that Julian was in gifted classes, but was still portrayed as a normal kid - he's athletic, has a good group of friends and a normal family. So often smart kids are shown as nerds or geeks. Breaking the stereotype is refreshing. A great book and one definitely for boys, although girls might enjoy it too.

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  • Posted October 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Explore Fears, Hopes, & Dreams of a Middle Schooler.  Journ

    Explore Fears, Hopes, & Dreams of a Middle Schooler.

     Journey inside the mind of a middle grader, as he shares his fears, regrets, and hopes through a touching journal exercise.




    Just by the passage I shared with you, I think you can tell at least one reason why I enjoyed this read. What makes this book is the voice. Hands down. Julian has a unique tone to his attitudes about his experiences, I couldn't help but like him. He's bright for his age--which he seems embarrassed about--and comprehends the world around him. I loved how honest he was about his view of the world while writing in his journal.




    The next element I thought of while reading was how easily middle graders could relate to Julian's position: being a watcher while negative action is taking place in front of him. Then, one of life's big choices presents itself to him: does he join in or walk away? It also gave a vibrancy to the thought we've all had--"Thank God it's not me being picked on."




    Setting the story during the 1960s worked, eliminating distractions from all our technological devices of today; it gave the story a direct focus on Julian's issues at hand.




    His thoughts in his journal were always addressed to his teacher, which gave an intriguing glimpse at student/teacher relationship. The more he wrote about events during his days the more intimate and in tune with himself he became. It was wonderful watching his maturing process. Of course, there was plenty of the average and expected events that happen to him as a middle grader. Girls, rough-housing with the boys, and other growing pains that make this book interesting.




    I'd recommend this book to any MGer who likes older settings and a more personal view inside a character. There's not much fantasy or adventure, so I wouldn't recommend it to those kiddos.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2013

    Great Book

    I am a sixth grader that just finished this book for an advanced reading assignment in school and I thought that it one of the best books I have ever read. I just really enjoy how detailed Julian is with everything that is going on around him and inside of him. There are times in this book where may get angry, emotional, hysterical, or even just plain hooked. I ended up reading this book for hours on end because I couldn't get enough of it. I would highly recomend this book to anyone who enjoys reading realistic-fiction, first-person point of view books that get you hooked and don't let up until the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2013

    Book

    What does he do!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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