Monday, October 21, 2013

TOS CREW Review- Diary of a Real Payne: Book 1 Real Life

We love good books in this house! You will find them in all the nooks and crannies in our home.  They are probably the thing that weighs the most when we move.  As a matter of fact, two of the things I frequently have to say to my kids is no, we cannot buy more books and put the book down and do your other work. Quite a problem to have, huh?

One of our latest reviews was a book published by Barbour Publishing and one that we were excited to try. Finding cute, fun loving books is sometimes hard in the modern day world of sci-fi fantasy and adventure. While there is a place for that kind of reading, sometimes I think kids just need a chance to be kids and enjoy kid stuff! Diary of a Real Payne Book 1:True Story, written by Annie Tipton for ages 8-12, is such a book.  A book for kids! And fun loving adults as well.

Meet Emma Jean Payne, EJ for short.  She is just entering 4th grade and has her brain in the clouds more often that her parents think she should.  Each chapter begins with EJ's diary entry, and through them you get to see just what goes on in that brain of hers and it is sure to make you laugh.  Just about everything she does sends her into a fantasy world of imagination- from grocery shopping where she imagines she is a race car driver to swimming and imagining she is a dolphin trainer.  Add to that her lovable kindergarten brother she calls The Space Invader and you have a story full of fun and laughter.

Our son, a 6th grader, enjoyed this story immensely.  Though it was slightly below his reading level, he enjoyed he antics of EJ and especially enjoyed how the book was written and appreciated its humor.  He read it in two days!  Since then I have read it, giggling out loud a few times, I admit, and now have it in our stack as our next read aloud.  I do think our whole family will enjoy it.  Reading alouds are fun in our house...add a little expression and a few fun voices (my 15 year old is great at this) to the humor the author has splashed the pages with, and watch everyone make memories together.

The story starts out with EJ telling her diary she has a list of things she wants to do when she gets out of her boring hometown.  She wants to do something amazing.  What kid doesn't?  What parent doesn't, for that matter?  Luckily for EJ she sees that while she may not be able to change she world, she can change the life of someone else in a positive way.  A great mini lesson for kids!

As her mom says, "...I also believe that God has plans for EJ Payne that are better than even her amazing imagination can dream up." p. 24

Another reason I really like this book is its subtle presence of Godly perspective.  While it does not gush God in every paragraph, it does mention prayer before dinner,  EJ's father being a pastor, family camp and even some Bible stories.  I love that!  So many times writers try to force God into their books, making them seem unnatural.   Annie has not done that.  Instead she has made it such a natural part of her characters that you accept it as real.  Anytime I can have my kids read about other Godly people, even ones in fiction, I am on board.  Seeing how others do life with God in it on a daily basis makes it more familiar and comfortable to them.  With messages of love and helping others and forgiveness, our children can learn some valuable lessons even while reading a fun, fiction book!

  "Because one way we live out our faith is by loving the people who are mean to us." p. 125

Parents that love each other, a family that laughs and has fun together, friends that take care of each other...what more could you ask for in a story?  A lot of laughter!  And THAT you will get in Diary of  A Real Payne, True Story.  Oh, and I may just have shed a tear or two at the end.  I am a sucker for a sweet ending!
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The Diary of a Real Payne can be purchased from Barbour Publishing for $4.49.  It is worth every penny!   Watch for Book 2 - Church Camp Chaos in March 2014!

And a quick call out to Barbour Publishing...they carry a vast quantity of equally wonderful books- always at 25% off the original costs.  Now is a great time to stock up on Christmas gifts... only a few months left of shopping!


  1. Oh my goodness...gonna have to order this for my 4th grade girl who has her own "space invader" kindergarten brother! And my girl loves to read so much that last year when she got in trouble at school, it was because she had hid her library book in her desk cubby and would pull it out to read when she should have been doing other things like math!

    1. Sounds like my girls. She needs this!! ;) It is a great story!

  2. Michele, thanks for your review! I love hearing about boys who enjoy reading about EJ's adventures. When I wrote book 1, lots of people asked me if it was for boys or girls, and my answer was that I thought either gender would enjoy it -- and so far the feedback has confirmed my suspicions! Fun is fun, after all! Thanks for reading!

    1. I think my son may have been a little hesitant at first, but that did not last for long! We have had a lot of laughs reading this together now. Can't wait for the second one! Thank you Annie, for blessing us!


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