cover image Please Write in This Book

Please Write in This Book

Mary Amato. Holiday House, $16.95 (97pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1932-6

Amato's (the Riot Brothers books) novel takes the form of a journal that a teacher secretly places in the Writer's Corner of her classroom, encouraging the students who discover it to "" 'talk' to one another in these pages."" Their written conversations largely consist of trading barbs-often boys-vs.-girls-themed-many of which are silly or mean-spirited. In their words and rudimentary pictures, several boys trot out a juvenile humor that some readers will find off-putting: after one makes his initial entry (""My name is Luke. It rhymes with puke""), another responds, ""Great picture. Made me laugh so hard, snot almost came out my nose."" Fed up with the ""lies and mean stuff"" in the boys' entries, bossy Lizzy and her best friend whisk the book off to the girls' bathroom. The boys nonetheless retrieve it, and their fellow classmates declare the purloiners the ""Queens of Mean."" Finally Luke proffers a peace plan, suggesting they all cooperate to write a single fictional story (""No getting sad or mad. It's just fun""). As the students collaborate on an inane tale in which they rescue their teacher and journal from invading aliens, readers know from their handwriting who is contributing each passage. In the journal's final entry, the teacher commends her students for figuring out how to work together. Ages 7-10.