Archive for Diary-Format Fiction

Booktalk: The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

The Bunker Diary cover

When I read The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks earlier this year, it was one of the most suspenseful YA books I’d ever read.  Teen in peril?  Edge-of-your-seat?  No idea what will happen next?  Our hopes repeatedly raised and then dashed to pieces?  YES to all of the above.

Give this book to fans of books like What Happened to Cass McBride? or any other realistic fiction that will keep them on edge!


Linus woke up in a place he’d never seen before.  It was like an apartment with several rooms, but the more he looked around the more he realized that this was no ordinary apartment.  The walls were made out of concrete, and they were painted white.  There were no doors or windows leading outside, so he had no idea where he was or even if it was night or day.  The only connection between this concrete bunker and the outside world was an elevator.  An elevator that went … somewhere …

Linus spent some time exploring his new surroundings.  There was a bathroom, kitchen, elevator, and six identical rooms.  He thought … why would there be SIX rooms if he was the only person here?  And then he wondered if maybe he should expect some company.

Linus also spent some time thinking back on how he got here.  He remembered how he stopped to help a blind man who turned out not to be blind at all, a man who drugged and kidnapped him before bringing him to this mysterious place.

Linus doesn’t know it yet, but being kidnapped and brought here against his will isn’t going to be the worst thing that happens to him.  He doesn’t know it yet, but his nightmare is just beginning.

Booktalk: Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

Love You Hate You Miss You cover

As soon as I read Elizabeth Scott’s amazing novel Living Dead Girl, I knew that she was an author to watch.  Then I read Love You Hate You Miss You, which featured another conflicted protagonist with a powerful voice.  This is a great read for any teens interested in journal-format or letter-format stories, as well as stories about friendship and grief.


Dear Julia.  It’s been 75 days since … well, it’s been 75 days.

I’m going to be leaving rehab soon.  I’d say I was glad, but leaving the Pinewood teen treatment center means going back home and joining that family unit of two parents who fit perfectly together.  The two of them plus me, the daughter they never wanted.  My shrink wants me to keep a journal.  He wants me to document my journey, and write about how I’m emerging from the darkness and moving into the light … or something.

So I decided that I would rather write to you instead.  About how much I miss you.  About how much I remember you every day.  About all the things I ever wanted to tell you, but didn’t.  I still blame myself for what happened, and a lot of other people blame me, too.  Including your mother.  I don’t think she’ll ever forgive me … and I don’t know if I can forgive myself, either.

My family and my doctors want me to go back to having a normal life, but I don’t know if I can do that.  I don’t know if I remember what a normal life is.  And Julia, I don’t know if life is worth living if you won’t be there to share it with me.

Booktalk: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

Several years ago, I found myself in a bind.  A local private school that had never invited me to visit before asked me to come in and address their entire middle school for ten minutes during an assembly.  There was the one part of my brain that said, “Well, my typical presentation lasts about 40 minutes, and it’s most effective if I’m speaking to one or two classes at a time.”  Then there was the other part of my brain that realized that I could give my statistics a huge boost by seeing several hundred students at the same time, and that I COULD hypothetically condense my 40-minute presentation into 10 if I tried hard enough (and cut out a lot of it).

The other big problem was that since I was going to be talking to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students all at once, I either wanted to talk about crossover books that were definitely in both our children’s and young adult collections or children’s books that were cool and popular enough that younger teens would enjoy them.  Because nothing would be crueler than telling these kids about books from the young adult collection knowing that some of them could check them out right away while others might not be able to for another year depending on which box their parents had checked on their library card applications.

So I scoured the shelves of our children’s room looking for books that fit the bill, and I picked two crossover books plus this Wimpy Kid book.  I then skimmed this book really quickly, created a list of major plot points, and voila!  There was my booktalk.  If I left out any of the plot points on my list, either because of time constraints or because I experienced “deer in the headlights” syndrome, it would be okay.  If I got any of those plot points in the wrong order, it would also be okay.  And if worse came to worst, I could just hold up the book and say, “We have lots of Wimpy Kid books at the library!”  Because that would be okay, too.

So I got to the school, found my way to the auditorium, and was told that I actually had FIVE minutes to speak because there were a lot of other things on the agenda.  And then … well, everything after that was kind of a blur, but I think it went okay in the end.

If you’d like to learn more about The Last Straw and the rest of the Wimpy Kid books, then you can visit Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid website.


Greg Heffley has made an important New Year’s resolution.  This year, he’s resolved to help other people improve … because Greg himself is pretty much perfect!  So now Greg is trying to make his mother chew her potato chips more quietly, trying to stop his father from cheating on his diet, and trying to stop his brother Roderick from being such a horrible person.  Unfortunately, it turns out that other people don’t LIKE being told how to improve themselves, so this resolution doesn’t work out too well.

Greg writes about a lot of things in his diary, from that failed New Year’s resolution to a Valentine’s dance where the kids are told they HAVE to dance because it’s going to count as 20% of their PE grade.  Then there was Greg’s single-handed destruction of the soccer team’s perfect record.  And the time that he got a zero on his geography quiz.  And the time that Greg’s little brother Manny invented a gross new nickname for him and wouldn’t stop using it.  And the time that beautiful Holly Hills couldn’t even get his name right.  And the time that Greg’s father said that he wanted to send Greg to military school …

Actually, there are a LOT of things in this diary that Greg Heffley would rather not remember!  But YOU can read all about them in

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney

Booktalk: The Life History of a Star by Kelly Easton

NOTE: I needed to swap my episode order this month, so the “how-to” episode I planned to do this week will be going up next week instead.  Stay tuned!

I’m a fan of The Life History of a Star by Kelly Easton for several reasons.  Because I like fiction stories that are written as journals (and those are easy to adapt into first-person booktalks), and because it’s a historical fiction book about a period of time that’s not frequently covered in young adult novels.

Oh, and here’s a little booktalking trick I use a lot that might be helpful for you.  As I’m writing my booktalk, I like to use repetition or lists/series of things because it makes it easier for me to memorize it.  If you look back through my earlier booktalks, you’ll see just how often I use that trick!


My name is Kristin Folger.  I’m 14, but I feel like I’m 50.  My English teacher gave me this journal to keep track of my thoughts because, as she put it, “They’re really quite unusual.”  Well, here’s an unusual thought:  I don’t believe in God, but if I did, I’d have a lot to say to him.  You know, if I believed in God, I would tell him off for making it so that one week out of every month I feel fat, tired, and suicidal.  If I believed in God, I’d ask why my best friends are acting so weird that I don’t even know them anymore.  If I believed in God, I’d ask him for normal parents who actually talked to each other, instead of just fighting all the time.  If I believed in God, I’d ask why he allowed the Vietnam War to happen, because it broke my family into a million little pieces.  And if I believed in God, I’d ask him why we were living with a ghost.  A ghost that has the body of someone I used to love, but not his mind … not anymore.

Booktalk: The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez by Judy Goldschmidt

Since there’s been so much depressing news here on the east coast now that Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, I thought it was about time we had a funny story again!  The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez by Judy Goldschmidt is the first in a series of books featuring Raisin’s adventures, although unfortunately the sequels are not in print at this time.

This is a great book to recommend to teens who enjoy realistic fiction, humorous books, and diary-format fiction.  If you have teens who enjoyed Click Here (To Find Out How I Survived Seventh Grade) by Denise Vega — which I booktalked in a previous episode — then they would DEFINITELY love this book, as well!


Raisin Rodriguez was happy and well-adjusted when she lived in Berkeley, California.  She was happy with the weather, with her home, and with her best friends.  But that was before her parents got divorced and her mother remarried.  Now Raisin and her sister Lola have been dragged across the country to live in Philadelphia with their new stepfamily.  Raisin is completely devastated, and she writes her feelings in her blog,  She writes about how she’s dealing with her new family and her new school.  How can she get social hotshot Fiona to be her friend?  How can she get social reject Jeremy to stop being her friend?  How can she get the quiet and mysterious CJ to notice her?  When will her stepfather stop calling her “dude,” and who gave him permission to congratulate her when she finally got her period?  Read her blog to find out.  You might as well – it’s not as private as she thinks!

Booktalk: Click Here (To Find Out How I Survived Seventh Grade) by Denise Vega

Sometimes I need to booktalk a book that makes me laugh and makes the kids laugh.  After all, everyone needs a break from sad books and scary books, right?  This is a great booktalk for the middle school set, especially for 7th graders who light up when they see that it’s a book about THEM.  You can check out Denise Vega’s website to learn more about Click Here (To Find Out How I Survived Seventh Grade) and its entertaining sequel, Access Denied (And Other Eighth Grade Error Messages).


My name is Erin Swift.  I have big feet and I love Snickers bars.  I just started seventh grade, and already it’s a disaster.  First, my best friend Jilly and I are in different classes for the first time since kindergarten.  Second, I’m in the same class as Serena Worthington, who is stuck up and annoying and mean.  Third, on my first day of school, Serena Worthington called me a puppet.  As in “Jillian is Gepetto and you’re Pinocchio” kind of puppet.  And you know, it didn’t even make me feel better when I punched Serena in the face for saying it!

But after a few days, I realized that this new school wasn’t all bad.  First, I actually became a little bit famous for punching Serena Worthington.  Second, I only kept the nickname Pinocchio for the first week of school.  Because after that, the janitor found two eighth graders making out in a closet, and people forgot all about Erin the Puppet.  And third, I made a couple of new friends, Rosie and Mark, and we’re all in the computer club together.  Rosie is a good listener and a good friend, and Mark … well, let’s just say that the more time I spend with Mark, the more HTML stands for Hot Tamale Mark LOVE!

I’ve started a home page where I’m writing about my life, posting pictures of me and my friends, and providing fun links to click on.  Click here to throw virtual darts at Serena Worthington’s face.  Click here to contribute your own Revenge of the Puppet ideas.  Click here if you are tired of clicking and just want a Snickers.