Emily Northcutt's Reviews > Scrawl

Scrawl by Mark Shulman
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Feb 13, 11

bookshelves: realistic-fiction, ya
Read from February 12 to 13, 2011

When authors like Nancy Werlin and Chris Crutcher provide detailed blurbs on the back of a YA book, it's got my attention. Tod Munn is perhaps one of the most dynamic characters that I may have ever encountered in my reading for my students. He is funny, frightening and sometimes heart-breaking. The novel is constructed as Tod's detention notebook entries for his guidance counselor. He has to spend every afternoon writing in it as punishment for an unnamed crime which is revealed toward the end of the book. Tod presents himself as a tough kid with a major chip on his shoulder, but as his words (his "scrawl") pour out we see many different sides of him. I detest bullying (as do most people) and I certainly did not want to like a character who is a bully. However, as Tod's layers are peeled off by his notebook, I found great empathy for the troubled kid who was underneath. Characters are many shades of gray in this novel - both students AND adults - and would provide terrific discussion material in a literature circle or book club. Highly recommended for grades 6+
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