Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story

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I am always in the market for new, wholesome books for the kids to read. When Barbour Publishing offered the first book in their Diary of a Real Payne series, Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story by Annie Tipton up for review, I was eager to check it out. It is recommended for kids ages 8-12 and since I have two in that category, we decided to use this as a read aloud.

 photo ProductImageHandlerashx_zpsdee6635f.pngThe paperback book is 192 pages and divided into 15 chapters. Each chapter starts with a diary entry from the main character, Emma Jean (EJ) Payne. EJ is a 10 year old girl who is full of spunk and quite the character. The diary entries are written in the 1st person, by EJ, and the rest of the chapter tells the story of what was going on in their family at that time. EJ's dad is a pastor who loves God and games. Her mom is a 2nd grade teacher who has a knack for using anything handy to hold her beautiful hair in place. EJ has one brother, Isaac, who is 5 and starting Kindergarten, and they have a family dog names, Bert. The characters were easy for us to relate to and we loved that it was a Christian family.

EJ and her family live in Spooner, Wisconsin, which is a very small and boring town in EJ's mind. She dreams of leaving there for somewhere bigger and better. EJ loves to read and sometimes gets caught up in the stories she has read. I love that she chose to be Anne Shirley (from Anne of Green Gables) for Halloween, even if people did think she was Wendy...from Wendy's Restaurant. LOL!

The story is sprinkled with Biblical truths, but living for the Lord is such a part of their family's life that it just flows with the story. This is the way I want our family to be! The parents lead by example and the kids notice and it changes the way they act.

For example: After having a contest to see who can shovel snow faster and clearing a cranky old man's driveway for him (remember that Pastor Payne likes to make things into games!), the kids start questioning why they bothered to do that when the man didn't want them there or thank them. Their dad replies, "If I'm kind only to the people who will do something good for me in return, who will treat me kind back, then that's not fully living the way Jesus wants me to." There are little lessons like that all through and we loved seeing how these "little" gestures changed the people later on in the story. I don't want to give too much away but trust me here. It's neat when it all starts coming together.

Reading while they draw the maps (and little dude runs around like crazy.
See him climbing on the chair in the background? lol)
EJ has a friend that is just mean to her and although the friend continues to be mean, EJ begins to see her differently and sometimes that is all that matters. EJ has learned from her parents that it is good to love and give, even when you don't get things in return, so is able to cook up quite a Christmas miracle.

I highly recommend reading this out loud with your family. Yes, the kids could read it alone, but we enjoyed the discussion and laughing at EJ's silliness together. I'm not normally a big "read out louder" but this one was worth stepping out of my comfort zone for. We took turns reading it to each other and even Big Daddy read a few chapters to us. It is an easy read and was a lot of fun to listen to. We also thought it was funny that there were characters named CoraLee (my mom is Coralee...she's not mean though like the CoraLee in the book - lol), Krista (my sister) and Leslie (your's truly).

P was reading to us while T drew/listened out back on a pretty day.

Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story normally sells for $5.99 but is currently on sale for $4.49. We are excited to see that the next book in the series, Book 2: Church Camp Chaos is coming out in March 2014. You can follow EJ Payne on facebook too and keep up with all her adventures.


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