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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story

This is a review.

Okay, is the title of this book not just super cute or what?

Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story is a juvenile fiction book written by Annie Tipton.

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It is published by Barbour Publishing.

Barbour Publishing used to be known as Book Bargains back in the 80's and primarily was a remainder book seller and now has transitioned into a full blown Christian publisher.

This book is an adorable, fun, funny book that we read as a read aloud at bedtime.  The recommended age level for this book was ages 8 to 12.  But, I read it to the kids from ages 4 up to 13.  Honestly, I loved this book too.  It was very cleverly written and had, to me, a very true voice of the main character, Emma Jean , aka EJ.  The book goes back and forth between getting a glimpse at EJ's diary entries and "normal" chapters explaining what is happening in EJ's life. 

EJ Payne is ten.  Her mom is a teacher and her dad is a pastor.  She lives in a small town in Wisconsin and thinks her town is booooooring.  I remember thinking the little country "town" that I grew up in was boring too and nothing good ever happened there.  (I got a kick of  the fact that her parents went to my neck of the woods......Minneapolis......for an overnight stay for their anniversary.) 

My little kids are enjoying this book, even if some of it goes over their heads.  They especially enjoy the parts of the book where EJ gets caught up in her imagination and acts out things like being a racecar driver or astronaut or beekeeper. (I have a fun time reading it in the dramatic voice of a narrator or sports commentator.)  If your child was going to read this to themselves, I would point out the different fonts to help them understand what is happening.  For example, EJ's diary entries have their own font written on lined paper, EJ's imaginary adventures are chronicled in italics and the "normal" chapters are just in regular type font. 

I didn't love some of the language (not swearing...just mean words) and the way that EJ talks, especially to her brother.  But, this book wasn't designed for my little is for kids 8 and older....who, I hope, would understand that it isn't okay to talk mean to your siblings....I hope....  Sometimes I would stop in my reading to say something about the fact that I hope they wouldn't talk like that to their siblings.  Sometimes they would interrupt me and say something like, "that wasn't very nice, was it, mom?"  And, if I am truthful, my kids sometimes talk to each other that way too.  :(

That one issue aside.  This is a great book.  I love how the parents (especially the mom) interacts with EJ and lets her be her....while gently encouraging and guiding her to make the right choices.  And, at times, the kids laughed out loud at EJ's misadventures.

Like I said, it was written in a very real voice.  The chapters made everyone seem human with their ups and downs and misunderstandings and EJ sounded like what a spunky, don't always think before you act, 10 year old would sound like.

Some of the parts of the book happen at school....which, for us, as homeschoolers.....the kids don't know what is real and what isn't.  But, for me, as a former public schooler, some of the hallway conversations and mean girl stuff rang very true.  But, the good stuff rang true too.  The true friendships with the select few that accepted you and your quirks....even if they didn't fully understand you....or even if they weren't anything like you. 

There are some lessons in the book, just in case you don't want your kids to just read for the sake of reading.  Lessons about being kind and helpful, even if it isn't appreciated.  Lessons about not judging someone because they are grumpy.  Lessons that there is always more to someone's story than what is presented to the world.  Lessons about trying new things. 

This is a "Christian" book, but even if I weren't a Christian, I don't think I would have felt like I was being preached too or anything.  Like my own life, it is just a natural part of our everyday life and activities.  You know?

We aren't quite done with the book yet, because it was one of those things that was temporarily misplaced during the whole "let's move twice" deal we had going on here.  (My camera and my calendar are still missing in action.) If I had my camera, I would have shown you the really cute illustrations that went with the beginning of each chapter....but, I can't.

If your kids are old enough for Facebook, there is an EJ Payne Facebook page where they is information on speaking engagements by the author, Annie Tipton as well as contests and other things related to Diary of a Real Payne. 

Book 2 in the series is coming in March 2014 and is called Church Camp Chaos.  We can't wait for that one...especially me....who has many fond memories of my days at Red Rock family camp at Camp Koronis in northern Minnesota!

If you would like to get this book, you can get it on sale for $4.49 right now. 

Take a look at what other TOS Reviewers thought about Annie Tipton's Diary of a Real Payne