Being a book loving family, and always being on the look out for another great read-aloud option for Supergirl and I, I jumped at the chance to review Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story by Annie Tipton. This charming book, published by Barbour Publishing, is ideally suited for children ages 8-12 but also makes a fun family read aloud!
Emma Jane Payne, who prefers to be called EJ, is a 10 year old 4th grader with a vivid imagination. Her father is a pastor, her mother a teacher and her 5 year old brother, Isaac a Kindergartener. The book begins with an introduction through a diary entry. EJ tells the diary a bit about herself. Each chapter begins with a diary entry that foreshadows a voyage into an imagination adventure. For example at the beginning of one chapter EJ tells her diary that tomorrow is the spelling bee and she explains why it’s called a spelling bee and then closes her entry by telling the diary she is going to go look up bees in the encyclopedia. During the chapter, her imagination ignites and she becomes a beekeeper.
I loved that, though the book is fictional, it is real in the sense that real people could identify with the characters. Though Christian in nature, the characters are not overly good; EJ makes mistakes and wrong choices.
I also loved that I saw my own daughters. Turtlegirl often gets lost in her own world and Tailorbear lives in her own imagination and is so impulsive. The diary entries use a font that appears more “hand written” and EJ is prone to inappropriate use of L. Turtlegirl also used to capitalize the letter L in the middle of words. I also found myself identifying with EJ’s mom when she would say “oh EJ.” I found myself reading those words aloud with the same heavy sigh that I have used when I would say “oh Tailorbear.”
This is a great read aloud for the whole family but I have only been reading it aloud to Supergirl. Turtlegirl and Tailorbear read the book on their own. Here are their thoughts!
Thoughts from Supergirl: (my special little lady!):
EJ has a brother named Isaac. Isaac loves dinosaurs. EJ was worried that she wouldn’t get to win the Spelling Bee. My favorite part of the book was when EJ was cutting hair. Isaac had a bald spot and they were worried about getting into trouble with their mom. I like the book. It’s fun to have mom read it to me. It’s a funny book. It makes me laugh.
Thoughts from Tailorbear (age 14):
I really enjoyed reading this book. EJ is a lot younger than me, but I saw a bit of myself when I was ten. I think the only thing I found “wrong” with the book, was the ending, it seemed a little cheesy. But even then, it seemed to make sense! I think there are many good things about this book. They were Christian, but not pushy about their faith and I appreciate that! But they prayed, and they loved their enemies. I appreciated that they weren’t overly pushy about their faith to Mr. Johnson, but instead showed him kindness. I recommend this book to people who love fun stories about imagination!
Thoughts from Turtlegirl (age 16):
I enjoyed reading the book. It was ‘brain-candy’ for me. I liked how each chapter (which was a self-contained story) began with a diary entry. I definitely relate to EJ’s active imagination. How many times has Mom told me to snap out of it and get back to doing chores? More often than is probably good for me. I loved how exuberant she was. I also enjoyed that although EJ is the daughter of a pastor, the book is not preachy. (Major points from me for that!) I would recommend this to anybody who is in need of some light, fun reading!
- Publisher/Vendor: Barbour Publishing
- Book Title: Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story
- Author: Annie Tipton
- Format: Paperback; 192 pages
- Suggested Age Range: 8-12
- EJ has a Facebook Page!
- Price: $5.99 (and right now it’s on sale for $4.49!)
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.