We are an avid bunch of readers and I’m always looking for age-appropriate books for my 3rd grader to read. When given the opportunity to review Barbour Publishing’s Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story by Annie Tipton, I thought it would be a great chance to check out a new author for us that might be appropriate (and fun) for our daughter. Plus Avarie was excited to get to do her own “review” for a change.
Avarie got started right away reading the book and read the first two chapters out loud to me. We both knew immediately we were going to like the book.
The story is about EJ (short for Emma Jean) Payne, a big dreaming, lovable 10 year old who dreams about getting out of her boring town of Spooner, Wisconsin. She dreams of adventure and hopes that she’ll have a “real” adventure someday when she gets out of her sleepy little town. Then EJ learns that her parents expect her to be an angel in the Christmas pageant and they won’t take no for an answer. Soon EJ learns there is much to experience right in her own little town.
Starting out with a diary entry, my daughter thought it was cool to read a book that was written so personally. I liked the layout. Each chapter starts with a diary entry from EJ before going into the story chapter. It really captures the mind of a 10 year old. It was easy for Avarie to relate to EJ through these diary entries.
EJ is a dreamer and day dreams a lot. This is true of my daughter which is why I think she liked it so much – she could totally relate to EJ and felt the book was about her. EJ’s mom is a teacher and dad is a pastor and she has a little brother named Isaac. Now I think this is where Avarie decided this book was about her. Isaac was described in the introduction, before even Chapter 1, in the first diary entry as:
Five and about to start kindergarten. He likes dinosaurs and cars and dirt and boy things and being nauseatingly cute…He knows one joke, and he tells it ALL THE TIME
Well, that describes Avarie’s little brother who is 4 and in Pre-K and loves dinosaurs and dirt and boy things and is pretty cute and knows one joke and tells it ALL THE TIME. This part of the introduction made us both stop and laugh. It then goes on to say:
I call Isaac ‘The Space Invader’ because that’s what he does – gets up in my space—every moment of every day he possibly can. Mom says he likes me and just wants to play with me. I say he just wants to annoy me until I snap.
I’m pretty sure we had that exact conversation today (and yesterday and the day before – you get the picture.)
There are great lessons of character and God woven throughout the book. It was nice to feel comfortable with a book that wasn’t teaching poor behavior or something we wouldn’t want our kids to be reading about. EJ is always getting into trouble or a situation and learning from it.
I thought it was funny and inspiring because it’s about a girl that daydreams and even though she gets in trouble when she daydreams she learns from it. It makes me happy when I read it. She wanted to be Mary in the play but had to be an angel instead. But EJ learned that being an angel wasn’t too bad. Being an angel was cool because she got to tell everyone about how Jesus was born. And she did a lot of other fun things in the book.
Check out the video about Diary of a Real Payne on You Tube:
Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story has 192 pages and is published by Barbour Publishing. It is recommended for ages 8-12 and retails for $5.99 available here. You can even read a chapter before you decide if it’s for you here. We are looking forward to Book 2 in the series, which is slated to come out in March of 2014.