You’ve heard the saying “Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover” right? Months ago, when the opportunity to review this book first arrived, I showed my ten-year-old daughter Anna the cover of Diary of a Real Payne ($5.99) by Annie Tipton. I even read her an excerpt, and read her all of the description available on the website at Barbour Publishing. She decided she wanted me to request the book. said she thought it sounded “funny and interesting.”
Let me tell you, it came as a complete surprise when she took one look at the book when it arrived and refused to open it. I finally got her to read three pages before she pronounced it “boring” and refused to consider any further involvement. Not the reaction I was expecting. As a result, I got the pleasure of reading the book for myself. It’s a good thing I actually enjoy reading juvenile fiction. This book is truly laugh-out-loud funny but touching at the same time, even if you are an adult. It didn’t take me long to realize it would make a great read aloud for my seven-year-old son.
What would you do with a name like Payne? The main character of this book is so much like my own daughter it was a little scary. Mine (Anna) got in trouble tonight for talking out loud in bed and keeping her big sister awake. I made her come downstairs and explain herself. Apparently, she tells herself stories to get to sleep at night. Out loud. I told her she is going to have to start imagining the stories in her head — like Emma Jean Payne did when she was walking through the dollar store pretending to be a race car driver with a cart. Totally lost in her story until she nearly knocked over an end cap of glue. Anna gets lost in her stories all the time. Reminds me of myself when I was young too. That’s why I like the message of this book –
living life to it’s fullest wherever God has put you instead of living inside the stories in your head.
I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the way EJ (Emma Jean) talked about her parents in her diary but that does improve with time and seems pretty realistic to me. The book alternates between narrative and diary style prose. So it isn’t all “diary entries” but there is one per chapter. I think this is what turned Anna off in the first three pages since it opens with a diary entry and those can be hard to read at first until you get into the story. From my perspective it picked up pretty fast though.
My Bottom Line: Diary of a Real Payne is a fun and interesting book and makes a great read aloud or reader for a child between 7 and 10 years of age.