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Scrawl Hardcover – September 14, 2010

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up–“I know what you think. You think I'm fixable, don't you? You want to fix the bad guy.” Readers slowly learn what makes Tod, a self-confessed bully, tick by reading the notebook he writes in (not, he insists, a journal) during after-school detention. He is supervised by Mrs. Woodrow, the guidance counselor, for a school break-in with his buddies (droogs), who increasingly resent that he's gotten this cushy punishment while they are consigned to clean the school grounds. Tod is no dummy. He reads, does his homework, and gets good grades. But he's poor. His mom, a seamstress, does alterations for a dry cleaners (Tod helps), and he tries to stay away from her husband, whom he describes as “unpredictable.” Lacking money for basic necessities like food and clothes, he extorts it from “losers” at school and otherwise tries to keep a fairly low profile. The plot is thin, as Tod gets roped into providing the costumes for a school play written and produced by “that spooky goth girl Luz Montoya.” Still, he is a funny, quirky, interesting character. There are loose ends, but in the end it's not so much what happened, as the fun of getting there, finding out whether Tod is right or not when he writes, “I'm a loser, okay? I was born a loser and I'll live a loser and I'll die a loser. And nothing you do here is going to ever change that.”–Joel Shoemaker, formerly at South East Junior High School, Iowa City, IAα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

After class-bully Tod and his “droogs” get caught vandalizing school property, his punishment is to spend every day in after-school detention writing in a notebook. “About anything?” he asks Mrs. W., his jailer. “Okay. Fine. You asked for it. I’ll write about this desk. I hate this desk.” The classic smarter-than-his-teachers underachiever with a rotten home life, Tod has a real way with words (the way he crashes, then dominates the spelling bee is priceless), and he soon warms to his enforced writing therapy. Some readers might wish he’d stayed a little more bottled up though—his wordy tendencies sometimes drag the narrative—but Shulman establishes a nice voice for him, as Tod rips jokes so dry they can float away and shows some real heart dealing with his less-than-desirable lot in life. Much to his droogs’ horror, he gets involved making costumes for the school play, and his increasingly confrontational clashes with them spell both trouble and growth. An unusual sort of bully redemption story, with patient, not reluctant, readers squarely in its sights. Grades 7-10. --Ian Chipman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 650L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596434171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596434172
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,417,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Sandford on November 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Written in first person by Tod Munn, a petty bully who is book smart underneath his mean exterior. Tod suffers a detention that includes writing in a notebook everyday after school in a silent room with a silent proctor for several weeks.This school situation could be middle or high school; the kid could be of whatever race you imagine him to be.

Shulman writes very well. He gives Tod a believable teenage voice with the accompanying emotions. The only other character that "speaks" is the guidance counselor who supervises Tod's detention, and occasionally responds in writing in his journal.
All other characters in the book are seen through Tod's eyes, and yet the author aptly depicts them as complete individuals.

Although somewhat corny and contrived in spots, with rapid fire twists and turns at the end, the novel wraps up neatly, like a poem, making for a satisfying read. Once begun, it's a book you want to keep reading.

And, oh, yeah, we find out that the school is loaded with bullies besides Tod and his 'droogs'.

This is mostly billed as a YA book, but I would say it's good for grades 5+.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kent on November 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Scrawl by Mark Shulman is a great book and well worth reading and/or purchasing. As you know, I try to get all of my books for free through this blog, but if I were going to pay money for a book, I would pay money for this one. Sometimes you pay $16.99 for a book (Scrawl's cover price, which I looked up on my free copy) and you feel like you only got $8.99 worth of story. Not so here. I would say I got at least $50.97 worth of story, bare minimum, maybe more. That's three times the value, at least! So you should buy this book because it just makes economic sense. You can, of course, check with your local library as well. Also, is it just me, or do these reviews get a little sillier every week:)

Silly or not, I do have an obligation to tell you about this book and more, I want to. Meet Tod Munn. He's an overweight bully who extorts money from the weaker kids. I loved him and you will too. He's cynical to a degree, but there is a lot of truth to his observations about his school and about the world in general. As with the main character in Amy Reed's Beautiful, you likely won't agree with everything he thinks and says and on some things, you will likely vehemently disagree, but I feel that Tod's viewpoint is challenging and worth considering. Here's an early example:

What else is in the room? There's a cracked brown flower-pot with a dead stick in it. The stick was probably a plant. It's got a red ribbon hanging off it like you would find on the corner of a diploma or if you won the Spelling Bee. The ribbon says "Congratulations," but who the hell knows why? Congratulations, you finally got a low-paying teaching job. Congratulations, you retired and didn't die of boredom teaching the same idiocy to idiots who care less about what's in your mind than what's in your car.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By KI Berens on November 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Scrawl puts you right inside the head of Tod Munn, a perpetually hungry, poor bully who survives his nasty rich kid/poor kid school by pretending to be dumber than he is. But as the book opens, this strategy isn't holding: he's in detention and given one last chance to convince a school counselor to let him stay at school. The journal he writes in detention--the explanation of his crimes--is the book Scrawl. As the book unfolds, we follow Tod through some excellent adventures, all of which build to a climax that feels transformative without being preachy. Shulman hits the tone just right. The author of over 50 children's books, Scrawl is Shulman's first YA. Talk about hitting it out of the park! Tod's voice and POV are distinctive and winning. But so's the artist/dramanerd/hyper-confident and competent Luz, the girl who doesn't fit it and so changes the school so that it can make room for her talents. These are some powerfully imaginative kids.

Briskly paced, laugh-out-loud funny but also a deep look into how a smart boy comes of age in a desolate home and school, Scrawl is peopled by Tod's characters who are fundamentally different from each other. Luz captures the imagination, with her peremptory but brilliant manner of getting everyone to act in her play. Tod's mom is harsh but kind of funny and *real.* Even the lousy lunch lady slopping meat sauce onto Tod's tray has a point-of-view, and Tod fields them all: the well-meaning school counselor, his "droogs" who, though they are his best friends, are too dumb really to know him, and the English teacher who pretends to be Tod's friend only to . . . . . So much happens in this book! I could go on forever. Instead, I salute Mark Shulman, author of my favorite YA novel. Ever.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AliaJames on September 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Tod Munn is a bully who got busted and is stuck in detention and has to write in a journal every day. The book, Scrawl, is his journal. We get to know Tod as he sorts through his feelings and in the process, finds himself changing (For the better? Hmmmmm...).

As an adult with a fondness for YA novels, I can tell you this is marvelously original, with a sense of humor and a moral code that isn't preachy. The back-and-forth between Tod and his guidance counselor (she writes in his journal on occasion) is smart and believable, and it's interesting to watch as the process of writing makes Tod open up. I recommend this book highly and will be looking for future works from this author.
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