All of my kids are voracious readers, so any time a book comes up for review, I jump on it! Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story from Barbour Publishing sounded like it was right up Mary-Catherine's (8) alley! Since the age recommendation is 8-12, it seemed like a can't-miss. It turns out, I was right!
EJ (Emma Jean) Payne's diary records her daily life which is anything but boring! EJ lives in Spooner, Wisconsin, a town which sounds like somewhere I would love to live, but is the farthest thing from ideal according to her. EJ's problems are fairly typical for a girl her age (10). Primarily, she wants to get out of her small town! She's not crazy about her little brother (Mary-Catherine's little brother is younger by about 30 seconds, but, according to her, he still counts and she sympathizes!). She doesn't want to be the angel in the Christmas pageant. Pretty basic stuff for a book of this genre...of course, I can't tell you everything about EJ and the things she gets herself into! One look at the cover should let you know that EJ is more than just your average little girl! It is those hilarious situations that she gets herself into, along with the diary format the book is written in, that combine to make this a very charming and quick 192 page read.
Mary-Catherine really enjoyed this book. On some levels. it was a little young for her. It is true that she is right at the target age, but she reads way above her age level. I asked her to read it while she was in the middle of Harry Potter Book 5, so she was a little reluctant to set that aside, but she did. Once she started reading Diary of a Real Payne, she finished it in a few days. She really enjoyed it. Her assessment: "I really liked the book because EJ has a good imagination. She also learns things about life even though she doesn't always get wants she wants. That's important."
Diary of a Real Payne costs $5.99, although as of today, the Barbour Publishing website is showing it on sale for $4.49. It is a high quality glossy paperback written in the diary style that is popular with many kids' books. I found it a quick and charming read. Although Mary-Catherine is the only one of my kids to have read it so far, I know that Michael (her twin) will also read it and really enjoy it. It wouldn't surprise me it Therese (12) also gave it a quick read. It just has that quality where you pick it up to flip through it and then find yourself being drawn into it, even if you didn't intend to actually read the whole book. That's how I ended up reading it! It's probably a combination of the diary style and the quirky main character (who reminded me, I'll confess, of Mary-Catherine!). The pricing of the book is right on target with other books of its ilk and I have no quarrel with it. If you're not sure about whether or not you'll like the style of this book, read the sample chapter available on the website.
Book 2, Church Camp Chaos, is due out in March, 2014. We'll be looking forward to it! Many other Crew members got to meet EJ Payne, so click on the banner below to see what they thought of this enchanting little girl.