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The Not So Boring Letters of Private Nobody

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4.22  ·  Rating details ·  276 ratings  ·  88 reviews
A trio of seventh graders become one another's first friends as they discover the secrets of a Civil War soldier in this middle grade novel for fans of Gordon Korman and Gary Schmidt

Twelve-year-old Oliver Prichard is obsessed with the Civil War. He knows everything about it: the battles, the generals, every movement of the Union and Confederate Armies. So when the last ass
...more
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published February 13th 2018 by Dial Books
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  276 ratings  ·  88 reviews


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Ms. Yingling
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus
You know, the world would be a very boring place if we all liked the same books. There are lots of blogs out there, and it's easy to get lots of different opinions. I often don't like the books others do, and I don't often get really excited about a book. When I do, however, I get REALLY excited. (The Football Girl, anyone?)

The Not-So-Boring Letters of Private Nobody made me ridiculously happy for a lot of reasons. When I taught Latin, I used the phrase "somewhat benevol
...more
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)
Arrgh!!! I was so stuck on the rating for this. I really wanted to rate it five stars, maybe even put on my favorite list, but there was one thing I didn't like.
Romance.
Don't get me wrong. I don't hate romance but these kids are in middle school. It isn't the time to be thinking about being "more than friends."
If it weren't for the romance, I would have loved this.
Oh well.

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Emily
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: byl-reads
Actual rating: 3.75

Oliver is a 12-year-old Civil War buff. When he is assigned a social studies project about the Civil War he is excited. Finally, his moment to shine! That is until he is paired with Ella, a girl he sees as weird and lazy - she's failing 7th grade after all. Not only is he stuck with her as a partner, but they also have to base their project around a soldier that Oliver's never even heard of.

Over the course of the story, Oliver learns there was more to the war than the glory o
...more
J & J
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A good book for history lovers!
Carolyn Menke
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oliver Prichard is not your typical seventh grader. He spends his weekends dressing up in Civil War clothes to reenact battles, and he does it with gusto. I love that about him. When this history buff is paired with Ella Berry, the girl who's failing school and doesn't seem to care, in order to research an unknown soldier for a school project, he thinks he's doomed. Nobody gets the war like he does, nor do they appreciate a good war hero. Oliver wonders why the soldier matters since he died befo ...more
Wendy MacKnight
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
What a charming, funny, smart middle grade novel. I adored this book from the beginning to end and guarantee that the kids who read this will not only learn something, they will fall in love with all the characters!
Jennifer
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Please trust me and just read this book. It’s so touching and so interesting. If there’s a tween you know who hasn’t found the right book yet to make them fall in love with reading, this is a worthy candidate for so many.
Kathi
I loved this book.

I loved that it was about studying the Civil War with a dynamic teacher, about three seventh graders who accomplished a cool project, and who became really good friends while doing it.

I loved that Oliver, the main character, was a Civil War reenactor. I loved the fact that the writing of this book is exceptional, and also that this exceptionally-written book was written by middle school social studies teacher Matthew Landis...while he was teaching 8th grade social studies, as
...more
Jean-Marie
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale last year and finally got around to reading it will my 12-year-old. Everything about it is charming, especially the characters. The protagonist's sidekick Kevin was a hoot. He totally gave off that whole Ned from Spider-man vibe. I think this is a great read for middle schoolers who enjoy a little history, a little mystery, a little young love, and a little buddy comedy. It's a fun read.
Shawna
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely perfect.
Liz Friend
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
The story: Oliver is pretty sure he knows more about the Civil War than any social studies teacher at his school, and he wants to work solo on his history project to make it perfect. But his teacher forces him to work with that kind of messed-up girl Ella, and even worse--to research a lowly private who died of diarrhea! This is NOT the Civil War project he's spent his life getting ready for. But Private Raymond Stone isn't the Nobody he expected, and Ella isn't the girl he expected, either. She ...more
Toni
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
Oliver loves the Civil War. So much so that he cannot help sharing facts about it with his classmates, none of whom share his passion. All of them find him annoying, to say the least. Now his social studies class is about to study the Civil War and Oliver cannot wait. What? A group project? His partner is sure to mess it up and does so immediately by picking a private's name out of the hat rather than anyone important.

Ella and Oliver investigate the life of the local private, spending time at h
...more
Kate
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great read for those who enjoy middle grade books involving history and mystery. There are some pretty funny laugh-out-loud moments, and some poignant moments as well. It would be a great choice for a reluctant reader, especially one who appreciates history!

Oliver, a 7th grader, is obsessed with the Civil War. So, when there is a project assigned in his history class, he’s thrilled — until he gets a partner (he’d rather work alone than have a partner screw it up) and that partner randomly choose
...more
Mrs. Notton Class
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the book, The Not So Boring Letters Of Private Nobody, by Matthew Landis, follows a story about Oliver and Ella. When Oliver gets assigned to do a Civil War project, he gets over excited and wants to make sure he gets to research the General Stonewall. He quickly, gets disappointed about his project when he finds out that he is partner with a girl who might fail 7th grade. Ella Berry, Ollie's partner, doesn’t care if she does fail or not because she just wants to prove a point to her parents. ...more
Rebecca
Oliver LOVES the Civil War. No, really, it's his passion; he can think and talk about nothing else (he sometimes wonders why he has no friends). When his teacher assigns a project to do a biography of someone from the Civil War, Ollie is over the moon--he is so going to KILL this! But...of course there's a but, and this time it's three. First, it's a group project. Second, his teacher (who totally reminds me of some of our teachers, with his wry sense of humor) assigns him to work with class out ...more
Valerie McEnroe
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school, civil-war, mystery
If you're looking for a Civil War book that kids won't groan about reading, this is the one. You have to be ok with it being realistic fiction, since it's about modern kids researching the Civil War for a Social Studies project. In real life Matthew Landis is a Social Studies teacher who decided to write a book about his favorite topic. The Civil War. I'm sure his students must think he is the coolest teacher on the planet.

In the book, it's obvious that both the teacher, Mr. Carrow, and the st
...more
Robin
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Not So Boring Letters of Private Nobody makes the history of the Civil War come alive in the everyday lives of middle schoolers, their teachers, and their families. It is a great alternative to books classified in the historical fiction genre that use the past as their setting and are sometimes difficult for students to form a connection with. In TNSBLOPN the main characters are present-day 7th graders learning about the Civil War. Matt Landis is spot on with his description, dialogue, and a ...more
Kate Schwarz
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was truly one of the best middle grade novels I've read. I'm so glad I got to share it with my youngest son, in third grade; it was purchased at a school book fair by his big brother in fourth grade and already read by his big sister (when she was in sixth grade, I think). So it has a wide appeal--it really has a bit of everything.

Oliver is a seventh grader who is thrilled to be doing a project on the Civil War, about which he's totally obsessed, but not thrilled to be paired up with Ella,
...more
LeeAnne
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oliver is an expert on the Civil War and is thrilled when his teacher announces a new project on the war; Ella is about to fail 7th grade unless she gets a perfect score on this project. Ollie’s teacher pairs him with Ella, and Ollie could not be more disappointed. Through his time with Ella, and his new friend, Kevin, Oliver learns a lot more than he already knew about the Civil War, friendships, and middle school love. None of those things are what they appear to be, especially Ella. If she is ...more
Mary Sanchez
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oliver is excited because his 7th grade social studies class is finally going to study the Civil War--his favorite topic especially since he's a Civil War reenacter on weekends.

However, Oliver's teacher pairs him with Ella to complete a project, and their subject is Private Ston, a soldier who died of dysentery an never even fought.

Ella is unkempt and shows no interest in the topic, but she begins to work with Oliver and they even spend time at the historical society discovering fascinating de
...more
Lisa
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oliver knows more about the Civil War than just about anybody - including teachers. So he was excited that his class would be doing a project on a Civil War person - but . . . He had to work with a partner - Ella Berry who seems to fail everything, and he didn't get to pick his person, she drew Private Raymond Stone, who didn't even die in battle or get to fire even one shot. ARGH! Now, they are spending their weekends combing through primary sources at the Historical Society, filming scenes for ...more
Rachael Bookfairs
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 3rd - 6th graders
Shelves: 2018-books, arc-done
Twelve-year-old Oliver Prichard is obsessed with the Civil War. He knows everything about it: the battles, the generals, every movement of the Union and Confederate Armies. So when the last assignment of seventh-grade history is a project on the Civil War, Oliver is over the moon—until he’s partnered with Ella Berry, the slacker girl with the messy hair who does nothing but stare out the window. And when Oliver finds out they have to research a random soldier named Private Raymond Stone who didn ...more
Gretchen
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As the author writes in his note, when you put "boring" in the title, you wonder who will pick up the story. This story was a good one for the lesson of seeing people beyond what is at the surface and realizing that words do carry a great deal of force with them. But it was the story of how the two middle school students did their research project that really kept me interested throughout the book. I loved how they used primary sources and then had to do some of the inferring on their own. They ...more
T
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A unique, sweet story of friendship, war, and history.

Seventh grade Ollie Prichard is obsessed with the Civil War, knows everything about the battles and the generals, and is excited about his new history unit. When he is paired with a quirky, messy, introverted student who is failing most of her classes but needs an A+ on their assignment to pass Social Studies, and they are assigned a "boring" private who didn't even fight in a battle Ollie is frustrated.

Soon Ollie realizes there is more to
...more
Sherri
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it
“Oliver had never talked back to a teacher. It wasn’t in his DNA. He liked authority—it made the world organized and safe. But a rebellion was stirring in his gut. A secede-from-the-Union type of rebellion.”

Oliver is obsessed with the Civil War and so excited when his Social Studies teacher announces it as their next unit. However, not only does Oliver not get to work independently, he also gets stuck with a unknown soldier who dies of dysentery as his topic. His assigned partner, Ella, doesn’t
...more
Sandy Sopko
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grades
You do not have to be a history-lover to enjoy this book about 7th graders who partner up for a Civil War project. Oliver's teacher assigns him to work with Ella, which is a problem for Oliver because he is a self-proclaimed expert on the Civil War and Ella appears to be unmotivated about both school and life in general. Ella is asked to pick their random topic and, to Oliver's dismay, instead of getting an interesting famous general or the like, Ella picks an unknown private. The situation seem ...more
Michele
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
🎖 @penguinrandomhouse #partner 🎖
I’m a big fan of historical fiction, particularly WWII, so I was delighted to find that this middle grade book that focuses on a Civil War project was wonderful! This book by @matthew_landis will certainly hit a niche for kids who want a bit of history mixed into their realistic fiction. I learned things along the way, both about the #civilwar and about friendship.

Although told by a male seventh grader as the main character, I adored Ella, the female lead! Why doe
...more
Katie Reilley
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This MG novel was recommended to me by a Twitter friend, and I’m so glad I read it!

Oliver is a 7th grade student well versed in Civil War knowledge. After all, he takes part in a historical battle re-enactment group on weekends. So when his teacher assigns a Civil War project for history class, Oliver knows he’ll crush it. That is, until he’s paired with slacker Ella and assigned to learn about a random soldier named Private Raymond Stone.

I loved the mystery aspect of the novel as Oliver, Ella
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Sara
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing!

(Title was my 11-year old son’s review!) We read this book together, as he was not so interested in reading the author’s more recent title, It’s the End of the World As I Know It. It resonated with him, I think, because the story is about a kid who is not into “ball sports” but enjoys immersing himself in all things related to the Civil War (from how he decorates his bedroom to participating in re-enactments). My son isn’t specifically into the Civil War, but he is a fount of knowledge w
...more
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Matthew Landis teaches middle school history outside Philadelphia, where he seeks to make the past come alive in not-boring ways. He is a closet HALO fan, and can sometimes be found reading novels adapted from that video game. He is blessed with an amazing wife and two kids, and hopes to one day write a book that moves people like Lev Grossman, Jo Nesbo, Sharon Creech, Patrick Ness, or Ron Rash ha ...more

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