Can a homeschooler ever have enough books? Silly question, right?! Well, as a homeschool mom, I am always on the lookout for books, especially good, clean, and wholesome juvenile fiction that will interest my kids. Can you relate?
Thanks to Barbour Publishing, my daughter had the opportunity to read Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story by Annie Tipton. If you have girls between the ages of 8 and 12 who love realistic fiction, stay tuned!
About the Book
Emma Jean Payne, known as EJ for short, is a peppy, not-so-girly-girl ten-year-old who sort of has a problem. Daydreaming. Even though her daydreaming causes quite a few quandaries, she really can't help it. It's her way of escaping her super small, utterly boring town of Spooner, Wisconsin and dreaming bigger things for her life. (Because nothing big happens in Spooner, Wisconsin.)
Readers are first introduced to EJ and her family through an 8-page diary entry. Her mom thinks the exercise will be a good outlet for her, so EJ's making the best of it. In her first entry she tells about the three most important things she loves. 1. Family - she describes herself (freckled with green eyes and terrible hair), her parents (mom's a teacher and dad's a pastor), her pet (named after a dinosaur and an Anne of Green Gables character), and her little brother (one word - annoying). 2. Reading - she reveals her favorite books and the fact that she likes to read everything. 3. Dreaming - daydreaming to be exact. EJ wants out of Spooner, Wisconsin and constantly imagines all of the adventures she will have when she grows up.
Each chapter begins with a 2-page diary entry that basically foreshadows what the chapter will be about. Obviously, the diary entries are written in first person from EJ's point of view, but the rest of the book is written in third person. Chapters always revolve around EJ's antics, and she somehow makes ordinary, everyday things interesting which keeps the attention of young readers. Whether it's school supplies shopping, the first day of fourth grade, family camp, a hair cut, or the church Fall Festival, everything's an adventure with EJ!
Though most of the 192 pages of this book are filled with EJ's everyday life, daydreams, and wishful thinking, she finally realizes that God has plenty of "big" things for her to do right now even if it's "in the boringest place on the planet." How does she come to this conclusion? Well, you'll have to read all about her role as an angel in the Vine Street Community Church Christmas pageant and the important part she plays in helping an unexpected needy family. The book ends with one, final diary entry in which EJ shares all about her best Christmas ever.
How We Used It
Sometimes my kids slump their shoulders and give me that another-book? look when I present them with new reading material. When my daughter does this, I usually start off by reading the new book aloud with the hope that she will eventually read further on her own. That's exactly what happened with this book. After I read the first few chapters to her, I guess she couldn't wait to find out what happened next because it wasn't long before she announced that she'd read ahead. Every few chapters I'd read another one aloud before bedtime to spend mama/daughter time together. We always have some type of read-aloud going on for just us girls anyway. ;)
After my daughter finished the book, I gave her a Dear Diary assignment. She received the diary for her birthday, and she's written quite a few entries but not like the ones EJ writes. So, for the assignment she had to write an entry the way EJ writes one including cute, little drawings. I thought that sounded way more fun than writing a report or answering a list of comprehension questions! She agreed.
Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story was such a big hit with my daughter that she was disappointed to find out that Book 2, Church Camp Chaos isn't due to come out until March 2014! I think she liked that she could relate to some of EJ's feelings and some of the things she experienced. Plus, she thought parts of it were pretty funny.
Fantasy fiction is more my cup of tea, but I liked that my daughter liked the book and actually read over half of it on her own. The message of the story is great, too. Kids can be encouraged to know that God can use them to do "big" things right now in their own lives no matter where they live or what their circumstances are.
Whether you're a homeschooler or not, if you think Book 1 would be a good fit for your daughters or other young girls in your life, don't miss out on this great sale price - only $4.49 at Barbour Publishing. (Stocking stuffer idea!)