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Twerp
Cover of Twerp
Twerp
Twerp Series, Book 1
Borrow
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
From the Hardcover edition.
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
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover 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...
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.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 7, 2013
    Bullying, pride, love, peer pressure, and shame all come together for Julian “Twerp” Twerski in sixth grade. Ordered to keep a journal as an act of contrition for bullying, Twerski comes to record and eventually reflect on the ways in which he acts toward the people around him. Everette Plen does a fantastic job as the first-person Twerski. His voice is young and energetic, with a slightly nasal quality. This sounds perfect for the young tween protagonist. Furthermore, Plen does character voices well, creating authentic and consistent voices that are quickly recognizable for the rest of the cast. The narrator’s pacing and inflection capture the changes and developments in Twerski. Ages 9–12. A Random House hardcover.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 25, 2013
    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.

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Twerp Series, Book 1
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