Diary of a Real Payne: True Story

Annie Tipton. Barbour, $5.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-62416-131-5
Tipton sets her story in fictional Spooner, Wis.,—“the most boringest place in the universe,” according to 10-year-old EJ Payne, the protagonist of this first novel in a series for middle-graders. EJ daydreams of glory as a NASCAR racer, as Queen Esther, even as an airline flight attendant, but her parents are always reminding her not to “ignore all of the great things that happen in real life.” EJ’s father is a pastor, and her mother teaches elementary school and Sunday school. EJ’s life with her parents, annoying younger brother, and dog is mostly full of anodyne episodes that confirm her opinion that there’s “nothing great” in Spooner. Then, slowly, EJ begins to tune in to her surroundings. She returns from a daydream in time to rescue a child and starts to feel that “there’s no such thing as coincidence—that events don’t just randomly happen, but there’s a purpose for everything.” Told through a combination of EJ’s diary entries, daydreams, and third-person sections, the story uses humor and realistic situations but is often slow-moving and dull. Events culminate at Christmas in a heartwarming example of Christian charity. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/15/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
Genre: Children's
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