I am the bookworm in our house. One of my favorite items to review are books.
And I’m really not particular. I enjoy the books that come in for Josiah to read just as much. I love introducing him both to books I have loved since childhood or exploring a new book together.
Recently, Josiah and I both had a chance to review Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story by Barbour Publishing.
What I Received
I received Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story by Annie Tipton. This is the first book in her new series. It is intended for ages 8-12, though I am 41 (shh! Don’t tell anybody!) and enjoyed it immensely. The book is 192 pages long and can be purchased at Barbour Publishing for $4.49 (which is currently its sale price...the original price is 5.99).
I was unfamiliar with Barbour Publishing. It is a Christian publishing company located in Ohio. They publish approximately 150 books a year. If Diary of a Real Payne is a sample of the products they publish, I am duly impressed.
The Low Down (or Down Low?)
So Emma Jean Payne (she likes to be called EJ) is 10. Her mom is a 2nd grade teacher and her dad is a pastor. Hmm. Already I’m liking this set up. She has a 5-year-old brother, Issac, who is obsessed with dinosaurs and one knock-knock joke in particular. I would share it with you, but you will have to read about it for yourself. I will say that Josiah (who appreciates the knock-knock joke formula) was amused. He’s tried it out a few times.
The story is revealed in both diary and narration form. I, myself, loved my diary. In fact, we could almost call this little blog my grown up diary.
EJ is also very imaginative. Throughout the book we get to experience with her many of her wild day dreams.
I can’t tell you how much I loved this. I was also accused as a child as living with my “head in the clouds.” I still have a bit (ahem) of an issue with daydreaming. Though it hasn’t caused me nearly as much grief as it has caused poor EJ. Not lately anyway.
EJ lives in a small town in Wisconsin. Nothing ever happens in Wisconsin. She dreams of moving away and doing terrifically exciting things. Her parents encourage her to live in the present and pay attention to what is around her.
The book is not without its protagonists. The grumpy Mr. Johnson and schoolmate CoraLee both allow EJ to experience some typical childhood angsts. She has to learn some hard lessons, but don’t we all? I loved how the author wrapped it all up.
One of my favorite (ongoing) parts is EJ’s love for Anne of Green Gables! Who doesn’t love Anne of Green Gables? When EJ dressed up as Anne for her church’s Fall Festival she won the costume for “Best Fast-Food Restaurant Costume.” They thought she was “Wendy” from the Wendy’s Hamburger chain!
Absolutely shameful. Though come to think of it I’m not so sure Josiah would immediately consider Anne of Green Gables if he saw EJ’s costume. He’s too much of a fast food connoisseur.
One of Josiahs’ favorite parts also occurred during the Fall Festival. EJ spies some sneaky activity take place and has to solve the mystery.
EJ has plenty of real-life drama in this book typical of any 10-year-old. A taunting classmate, difficulties in school, disappointments…I know those all happened to me. EJ shows us all (through the encouragement of her parents) a compassionate spirit and determination to love those around her. I love that EJ is learning to be an example of Christ's love. The author does not shy away from that message.
You can tell that this is one book we really enjoyed. I also loved that the book is one Josiah can read on his own. He is dyslexic and I have trouble finding books that he can easily navigate on his own.
The generally can’t have too much text on the page. He has a terrific vocabulary and his reading is just about a grade level, but when there is a lot all over the page he gets overwhelmed. We did take turns reading to each other. The book does go from the diary entries, to the story, to EJ’s imaginative day dreams. Because EJ’s day dreams are in italic print he knew that he was reading something that was going on her head. That was a very handy tool!
Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story takes place at the beginning of the school year and ends at Christmas. I really think this would be a great gift for some kiddos out there to enjoy during the Christmas season. Not only does Annie present the story in a fun way (lots of giggles!), but it really is a wonderful story of compassion and God’s love.
On a side note, I love Annie Tipton’s style of writing. I think she and I would get on fabulously. There was one particular scene in which Queen Esther (as EJ) is contemplating a hang nail that had me howling. And I’ve decided I want to be Mrs. Winkle when I grow up.
Book 2 is coming out in March 2012. It is called Church Camp Chaos. That sounds like fun! I could tell a few church camp stories myself!
You can read more reviews of Diary of a Real Payne at the Crew Blog!