Thursday, October 16, 2014
Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart
It is sometimes quite hard to leave characters in their stories once I close the covers of a book. I feel invested in their lives; I have celebrated their successes and have sympathized with their struggles. This feeling of warmth for believable, real characters is exactly what I feel for Benjamin, the protagonist in Donna Gephart's newest novel, Death by Toilet Paper.
I became engaged in the life of twelve year-old Benjamin. I didn't want him to worry about the rent his mom couldn't pay. I wanted to run to my bank, make a withdrawal, and send an anonymous envelope to the Epsteins that could solve their dilemma.
I didn't want Benjamin to worry about the fact that his mom wasn't making enough money working at Piggy's Pancake House. I wanted to let my school know where they could hire a dependable, hard-working mother as a classroom or library aide.
I didn't want Benjamin to fret about his grandfather's forgetfulness. I wanted to comfort Ben and tell him of my own grandmother's struggle with a similar absent-mindedness to put him at ease.
That's what incredible books have. Authentic characters. Benjamin is an honest-to-goodness, down-to-earth, amazing-amazing-amazing kid. And I'll bet that every reader knows a kid just like Benjamin. That's why Death by Toilet Paper makes an excellent read.
I can't wait to book talk Benjamin's story to my eighth graders. In addition to the realistic protagonist and the exciting plot, this book is humorous. There are many snort-worthy sections. I know the exact pages I will read to begin my book talk ... pages 81-83. If these pages can be read silently or aloud without a single chortle, perhaps the reader should check his/her pulse.
The toilet paper facts at the beginning of each chapter only add to the enjoyment of reading this book. I have already shared several of the facts with my students. It's hard to resist!
I am happy to say that Benjamin has secured a forever home on the classroom bookshelf right next to Olivia and David and Vanessa.
P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!