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My Life As a Book


My Life As a Book

written by Janet Tashjian, cartoons by Jake Tashjian

“If my life were a book, I’d have my own cool adventures instead of reading about someone else’s. If I were the main character in an exciting story rather than some kid who has to sit around and READ all day, I’d spend the summer trying to find out how that girl in the newspaper ended up dead.”

The days are ticking down towards summer break, and all Derek Fallon can think about is the fun he’s going to have this summer. Summer means wasting away the afternoon having incredible adventures, playing croquet on the roof, and being a kid. The last thing on Derek’s mind is plowing through a summer reading list. In fact, ever since being labeled a “reluctant reader,” Derek has done all he can to avoid reading. The only thing he really enjoys is drawing his vocabulary words, which helps him understand what he’s reading better. That’s the furthest thing on his mind, though, with summer break starting.

Summer starts off well enough. Derek and his best friend, Matt, manage to have enough fun without getting into too much trouble. Besides the usual ruckus of playing James Bond at a local video store, Derek also stumbles upon an unusual mystery. Hidden in his attic is an old newspaper article about a teenage girl found dead on a beach in Martha’s Vineyard. When he confronts his mother, she brushes the topic aside, but he is determined to figure out why she won’t tell him anything. Just when the summer is getting interesting, Derek is dealt two setbacks: Matt is going on vacation, and Derek’s parents decide he is going to learning camp.

At first, learning camp is exactly what Derek expected --- horrible. He spends his time doing multiplication tables and trying to be interested. It doesn’t help that the former teacher’s pet, Carly, also happens to be there and loves learning. Once Derek’s teacher informs him that she hates summer reading too, Derek begins to change his mind. In fact, his teacher teaches him a trick to make reading more bearable: create a picture in his mind. This doesn’t help Derek like summer reading any more, but it also doesn’t make him like it any less.

Summer isn’t about reading though, according to Derek, and he makes up his mind to find out how the mysterious girl died. He finally wears his parents down, and with a little help from his grandma, his family travels to Martha’s Vineyard for vacation. Once there, it’s up to Derek to solve the mystery and finish writing the most exciting story there is --- his life.

MY LIFE AS A BOOK is geared towards all the “reluctant readers” in the world. Not only is there action, comedy and mystery, there are also fun illustrations sprinkled throughout. Author Janet Tashjian’s son, Jake, provides drawings that help explain any difficult vocabulary words. These are fun to look at, and you might learn a thing or two without realizing it! Tashjian makes sure the reader knows that the most important story is the one you create all on your own.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on July 6, 2010

My Life As a Book
(My Life #1)
written by Janet Tashjian, cartoons by Jake Tashjian

  • Publication Date: July 6, 2010
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • ISBN-10: 0805089039
  • ISBN-13: 9780805089035