Julian Twerski is not a bad guy. Really. That whole incident with Danley Dimple? That was a fluke. He didn’t mean for the kid to get hurt. It’s not worth going over again.

Yet, as part of his punishment, Julian has to write about it for his English teacher. From the start, he has trouble explaining the “Danley Dimple thing” and feels the need first to describe his life, his friendships—who he is. So begins Mark Goldblatt’s Twerp, an exploration of life as a 12-year-old in New York City in 1969, in the closing days of sixth grade.

We learn about the dangers of playing Cyrano for your best friend, finding out you might not be the fastest kid at P.S. 23 and making your own fireworks (with disastrous results). In fact, Julian will tell you just about anything you want to know—except for the one thing he’s supposed to be writing about. By the time he actually gets around to explaining what happened with Danley Dimple, we understand Julian, and we sympathize.

So drawn are we into Julian’s world, it’s sometimes hard to remember that an adult wrote this book. A wonderfully touching story that’s hard to put down, Twerp will appeal to readers of all ages.

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