OK, full disclosure here . . . when I saw the description of this novel from Barbour Publishing, I applied for the review because *I* wanted to read it! I did not CARE if my boys wanted it or not, I thought it looked like a fun read-aloud! So I was very pleased to be chosen for this one. 🙂
The book Diary Of A Real Payne Book 1: True Story written by Annie Tipton, is VERY entertaining!
Diary Of A Real Pain is written from the viewpoint of Emma Jean Payne (E.J. for short), a ten-year-old girl who dreams of leaving her small town Spooner, Wisconsin, so she can do BIG things when she grows up. She just KNOWS that small towns like Spooner are not where big things will ever happen, and that it is the “boringest” place there is.
The book goes back and forth between an entry in E.J.’s diary (which her mother thought would be a “good outlet” for her), and the story narration in the rest of each chapter. E.J. has big dreams, and they are regularly changing, as you’ll find out in both her diary entries and the continuation of the story within each chapter.
E.J.’s father is the pastor of the local church, and this novel has the Christian world view I prefer for my children to read whenever possible. Add to that the absolute hilarious-ness of E.J’s life, and all the trouble she finds herself getting into as a result of her extremely vivid imagination, and we had a winner for this particular read-aloud.
This story is about a girl, and I have, as you know, all boys, but they LOVED it! So many times, as I read from this book, one or another of my boys would suddenly exclaim “uh oh, I can see where THIS is going”, or “Oooh, she’s about to get herself into trouble again, isn’t she?”
E.J. zooms from career idea to career idea, and we get to have a front row seat as her imagination takes flight each time. Even when she, her little brother Isaac (or “the space invader”, according to E.J.”, and her friend Macie go door to door collecting for the school food drive, they decide to perform a mini circus at each home, complete with costumes. Of course, before long, we are reading E.J.’s account of their performance as if they are in a REAL circus!
As we read each chapter, the narrative goes immediately from what is actually happening right into E.J.’s imaginative account of what is happening in HER view, at least until something happens to bring her back to reality. And something ALWAYS does, too, like almost knocking down an entire store display while being a “famous female race-car driver”, for example.
Sometimes, E.J.’s imaginary interactions involve her nemesis, Coralee McCallister, the girl who is generally not very nice to her, and occasionally pulls a fast one to beat out E.J. at something (like deliberately making her nervous during the spelling bee, for instance)
We discover pretty quickly, as I said above, that E.J. believes nothing big ever can happen in Spooner, that she can never do the “big things” she is surely destined for. So, she imagines them, while waiting to grow up, move away, and then DO them.
When we got to chapter 14, though, something happened in the story that began to make E.J. realize this wasn’t necessarily true, that people can be part of doing “big things” anywhere, even in a boring little town like Spooner, Wisconsin. I’m not going to reveal to you what it is that causes her to realize this, but know one thing, although this book is juvenile fiction, when we got to chapter 14, it brought ME to tears.
Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story by Annie Tipton is an EXCELLENT read-aloud. It is actually recommended for ages 8 – 12, but as we discovered, it was a fun experience for all of us. My boys were rolling with laughter, and even managed to learn a few things about how good their own life is, and how we never really know what others may be going through.
We made the pleasant discovery at the end of the book that there is a second volume in the works, “Diary Of A Real Payne: Church Camp Chaos” which will be coming out in March of 2014. My kids and I are excited about that, as we really, really enjoyed this one!
In the mean-while, E.J. has her own Facebook page, where you can keep up with her “latest antics, diary entries, contests and more!”
To read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members thought of this book, please click below!
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