Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I don't read nearly as much Middle Grade fiction as I'd like to, but when the publicist for Finding the Worm contacted me about the title, I was admittedly intrigued. This book is a companion/stand-alone sequel to Twerp by Mark Goldblatt, and both novels sound like something I'd like my own kiddo to read. Katie's only in first grade right now, but I'm sure she experiences some of the same things Julian deals with in the sixth grade. I know I did. Here's a little more about the book:

By Mark Goldblatt
In stores now!!! 

Add to Goodreads

Order Finding the Worm:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Here's the blurb:
Trouble always seems to find thirteen-year-old Julian Twerski. First it was a bullying incident, and now he’s been accused of vandalizing a painting. The principal doesn’t want to suspend him again, so instead, he asks Julian to write a 200-word essay on good citizenship. Julian writes 200 no’s instead, and so begins an epic struggle between Julian and his principal.

Being falsely accused is bad enough, but outside of school, Julian’s dealing with even bigger issues. His friend Quentin has been really sick. How can life be fair when the nicest guy in your group has cancer? Julian’s faith and friendships are put to the test . . . and the stakes have never been higher.

Growing up is hard enough without adding all that to your plate...

by Mark Goldblatt

I’ve been touring for a few months now for Finding The Worm, the sequel to my 2013 novel Twerp, and I’m surprised how often I’m asked why Julian Twerski, the narrator of both books, is so clueless about girls. There’s a lot of highfalutin stuff going on in Julian’s 12-13 year old mind—in the first book, he’s wrestling against his own conscience, and in the second he’s struggling with the age old question of why bad things happen to good people. But readers seem to home in on the fact that’s he’s a total nitwit in matters of romance.

It’s embarrassing to confess, therefore, that the reason Julian is clueless about girls is that he’s based on me, and at that age I was pretty clueless about girls. (How much that’s changed in the intervening three-and-a-half decades is debatable.) One of the most painful memories of my childhood, for example, is the time love cost me my Bobby Murcer rookie baseball card….

Bobby Murcer, in case the name doesn't ring a bell, was a New York Yankee baseball player in the late 1960s. I idolized him. I lived and died with his every at bat. I cut out articles about him from the newspaper and pasted them into a spiral-bound scrapbook; I learned to convert fractions to decimals by calculating his batting average. Heck, I even liked his name. Murcer was a true Bobby. It was his actual first name. Not Robert. Not Rob. Not Bob. That tickled me: I mean, Bobby was something you were called, not something you were named! Bobby Kennedy was Robert Francis Kennedy. Bobby Darin was Walden Robert Cassotto. But Bobby Murcer was, well, Bobby Murcer. No Robert about it. That sealed the deal. My devotion to him was absolute.

My prize possession was his 1967 rookie baseball card. I can still see it in my mind’s eye: Bobby’s face was so round and lit up by a smile that his teammates would nickname him “Lemon.” When Murcer was hitting, life was good. Existential concerns were not to forget my clip-on tie on assembly-Thursdays and not to flinch when I got my booster shots. Thanksgiving dinners with grown up relatives were to be endured because aunts and uncles arrived with 10-packs of Topps baseball cards…always the old series, to be sure, but even these were useful to scale during recess and as trade-bait whenever a teacher left the room. Such were the Edenic days of card collecting, when the idea of resale would have been laughable, indeed incomprehensible, when “got it” and “need it” were the sole determinants of free-market worth. I kept my Bobby Murcer rookie card not in the sock drawer, with the rest of my cards, but on my desk, leaning against the base of my tensor lamp, where I could keep an eye on it. It was the first thing I saw when I woke up every morning. Puberty, that source of unending mischief and chagrin, was what cost me my Bobby Murcer card. In a moment of weakness, I gave the card to Heidi Rifkin, the first girl I ever got to like me. To consecrate our eternal union, she insisted we exchange our most precious possessions. Heidi gave me her 45 rpm single of Bobby Sherman (Robert Cabot Sherman!) singing “Little Woman.” I forked over Bobby Murcer. It was the sort of gesture only the nitwitted sincerity of a thirteen year old boy can produce; had I handed her Joe Pepitone instead of Bobby Murcer, she would've never known the difference….

You’ve probably guessed the ending by now. When Heidi and I broke up less than a month later, she flung the card back in my face. In two pieces. (Her Bobby Sherman record, I might add, was returned without a scratch.) She’d sheared the card in half, straight down the middle. The cut was precise, surgical. Scotch tape does no good in such situations. I didn’t even keep the halves.

So, yeah, I guess some of my naivet√© and befuddlement with the opposite sex bleeds into the character of Julian. What can I say? Le twerpc’est moi!

About the author:

MARK GOLDBLATT is a lot like Julian Twerski, only not as interesting. He is a widely published columnist, a novelist, and a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Twerp was his first book for younger readers. He lives in New York City.

Find Mark:

Website | Goodreads

OMG, that might be the cutest guest post I've ever had the pleasure of hosting on the blog. That period between being a child and a full-fledged adult is sometimes difficult and sometimes awful, but we wouldn't have stories like the one the author shared if it weren't for those trying times. =) It makes me want to read and share these books with my girl that much more.


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