Mark Goldblatt’s first book, TWERP, introduced us to 12-year-old Julian Twerski. He’s a smart kid with many thoughts about life and growing up. This sequel set in 1969-70, has Julian at age 13 returning to his journal writing. The story will have you laughing, crying, and thinking. It’s a funny book wrapped up in a serious one.
If you missed out on TWERP, you’ll be familiar with Julian’s gang of friends in no time. FINDING THE WORM is a separate story that stands well on its own. If you take the journey with Julian, he’ll seem like an old friend by the last page. I call that excellent writing. It also shows a male writer can push the emotional buttons instead of avoiding them. Everybody deserves to have someone in their life like Julian. He’s loyal and his story would be perfect for anyone at that awkward almost a teenager stage.
PUBLICATION DATE:2015 PAGE COUNT: 344
FULL PLOT (From Amazon): Trouble always seems to find thirteen-year-old Julian Twerski. First it was a bullying incident, and now he’s been accused of vandalizing a painting. The principal doesn’t want to suspend him again, so instead, he asks Julian to write a 200-word essay on good citizenship. Julian writes 200 no’s instead, and so begins an epic struggle between Julian and his principal.
Being falsely accused is bad enough, but outside of school, Julian’s dealing with even bigger issues. His friend Quentin has been really sick. How can life be fair when the nicest guy in your group has cancer? Julian’s faith and friendships are put to the test . . . and the stakes have never been higher.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT FINDING THE WORM by Mark Goldblatt
- Julian is a superb narrator and talks with his rabbi concerning life and the unfairness of it all will hit home with anyone.
- I love when books make me laugh and this one has some hilarious moments. Yes there will be smiles, giggles, and full blown bursts of laughter.
- The power of friendship is on display in a variety of forms. Julian must stand up for a sick friend but he’s also trying to understand the friendship that comes from a first crush.
- Life in the New York City borough of Queens is brought to life from school to games on the street. Who knew a simple pursuit known as Piggyback Tag would bring the value of friendship and community so vividly to the forefront.
- The parents and adults are way, way, in the background. Just what young readers want. It’s the Thirty-fourth Avenue gang that comes up with many of the growing up answers. And not everything has an easy answer.
FAVORITE LINES: After he got there, he looked up and muttered into the microphone. “I threw up in the garbage can. I’m real sorry.”
“That’s okay, honey!” his mom shouted, which made the rest of the congregation laugh.
QUOTE FROM AUTHOR: “Ever wonder why grammar matters? You may find my column for the Wall Street Journal worth a glance: Welcome Back, My Ungrammatical Students”
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.