Twerp. By Mark Goldblatt. 5 CDs. 5:22 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-8041-2158-3. $40.
Gr 5-7--A terrible bullying incident involving fellow student, Danley Dimmel, prompted the week-long suspension of Julian Twerski (Twerp) and his friends from their sixth grade class. When he returns to school, in lieu of writing a report on William Shakespeare, Twerp's teacher, Mr. Selkirk, asks him to keep a journal. The teacher hopes that through the journal, the boy will reveal the untold truth about the incident. Like Holling Hoodhood's teacher in Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars (Clarion, 2007), Mr. Selkirk is determined that Julian will learn something about life, himself, and maybe a bit of Shakespeare. Julian is funny, smart, and loyal to his friends, except perhaps when girls are involved. Though he doesn't always do the right thing, he's likeable and believable. Set in the 1960s, the themes of friendship, family, peer pressure, and bullying are timeless in Goldblatt's novel (Random, 2013), which is related in a first-person, confessional style. Everette Plen's portrayal of Julian's Spanish-speaking track rival, Eduardo, is forced; however, he does a stellar job of voicing Julian, his sister, and his friends. This novel delivers heavy themes with a light hand, and should be popular with middle-grade listeners.
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