by Mark Goldblatt


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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

A Sunshine State Award Finalist

“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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375971426
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 05/28/2013
Series: Twerp Series Series
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.84(w) x 8.36(h) x 0.95(d)
Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About 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. Visit him online at

Read an Excerpt

Julian Twerski 

January 11, 1969

The Pigeons of Ponzini

My English teacher, Mr. Selkirk, saysI have to write something, and it has to be long, on account of the thing that happened over winter recess--which, in my opinion, doesn't amount to much. It's not like I meant for Danley to get hurt, and I don't think that what happened was one hundred percent my fault, or even a lot my fault, even though I don't deny that I was there. So I guess I deserved to get suspended like the rest of them. I mean, maybe I could've stopped it. Maybe. But now the suspension is over, and Selkirk says I've got to write something, and because he says so, my dad says so, and that's that. I know what's going on. Selkirk thinks that if I write about what happened, I'll understand what happened. Which makes no sense, if you stop and think about it, because if I don't understand what happened, how can I write about it?

Besides, I've done worse, much worse, and never written a word about it, and the fact that I never wrote about it had no effect, good or bad, so writing about it or not writing about it isn't going to prove a thing. I've got a good handle on who I am, if I say so myself. Compared with most twelve-year-olds, I mean. I'm not saying that I'm done growing up. I know I've got a long way to go. Sixth grade isn't the end of the line. My dad says that when he looks back to when he was a kid, he doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. I know there's going to be a Julian Twerski in the future who's going to look back the same way and maybe shake his head. (That last sentence should make you happy, Mr. Selkirk.) But when I look back right now, I'm just saying that what happened with Danley Dimmel isn't the worst thing I've done.

I'll give you a perfect example: Last year, Lonnie and I were out back in Ponzini doing nothing, just yakking it up. Now, I guess I should mention that Lonnie's my best friend. Except calling him my best friend doesn't tell how tight we are. My dad says that if Lonnie told me to jump, I'd ask, "How high?" He's being sarcastic, my dad, but he's right in a way. Because here's the thing: Lonnie wouldn't tell me to jump unless he had a good reason. So, yeah, I'd ask, "How high?" He'd ask me "How high?" too if I told him to jump. It doesn't mean a thing. I've known Lonnie since I was two and he was three, and some of the stuff that's gone on between the two of us he'd brain me if I ever wrote about, but I'm sure he'll be all right with me writing about the thing with the bird.

Oh, and I should also mention that Ponzini is what we call the lot behind the old apartment building on Parsons Boulevard where Victor Ponzini lives. Why we started calling it Ponzini is another story, and it doesn't matter for the bird story. So let's just say that Lonnie was the first to call it that, and it caught on with the rest of us. But it fits. It looks like a Ponzini kind of place.

If you want to picture it, picture a layer of brown dirt on a layer of gray cement about the size of a basketball court. It's got weeds growing out of it, and it's got broken glass around the edges, and it's got a half-dozen rusted-out wrecks that were once parked in the underground garage but got pushed out back when their owners skipped town. It's got rats, which should go without saying, but the rats only come out at night. In other words, it's foul and useless, kind of like Victor Ponzini, who once squealed on Lonnie for cutting class. I mean, why is that Ponzini's business? The guy's a fifth grader and nothing but a tub of lard, but at least he knows it, which is about the only thing he's got going for himself.

So Lonnie and I were hanging out at the far end of Ponzini, just shooting the breeze, when I noticed that about a dozen pigeons had landed between two of the rusted-out wrecks. I nodded at the birds, and Lonnie glanced behind him, and I said, "What do you make of that?"

But in the time it took for the words to come out of my mouth, another half-dozen pigeons swooped down and landed. It was crazy--like a scene from that Alfred Hitchcock movie where a million birds get together and attack a town for no reason. There was no reason for them to show up in Ponzini either. There's not a thing for them to eat. I mean, it might make sense if someone had scattered bread crumbs for them. But there was nothing. It was as if one pigeon took it into its head that the far end of Ponzini would be a good place to rest for a minute, and then the entire air force joined in.

So the two of us were standing there watching, and in about a minute there were hundreds of pigeons crammed together between the two rusted-out wrecks, and the air was full of prrriiiilllrrrps--you know, that sound pigeons make. Their heads were bobbing up and down, ducking back and forth, and they were checking each other out. It was like a bird carnival. I'd never seen a thing like it.

Customer Reviews

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Twerp 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
notrow1 More than 1 year ago
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
gaele More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im Ravenstar, leader of Moonclan. This is our current camp. PLEASE DO NOT POST ABOVE THIS. Camp is res 2, bios are res 3, and you can use the rest for whatever you want. No powerplayers or unrealistic cats. Keep your oc simple and try not to be too edgy. Thanks ~Ravenstar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its amazing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hate this dumb book that has no point and does not make sence i am not even a hater i love books but this is the worst book ever dont wast your money people but matilda is amazing so that book is worth the money ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is not a true story. The author came to my school and talked. Great man. Great book. I loved it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it has a great lesson to teach to children and fun to read
GHott More than 1 year ago
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 ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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:( :(:(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It seemed to be that the sample was the whole book. Is this true?
MI_Reader More than 1 year ago
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.
salarsen More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What does he do!!!
CherylM-M More than 1 year ago
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.
lovelybookshelf More than 1 year ago
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.