On My Bookshelf: Scrawl by Mark Shulman

October 30, 2017

Scrawl by Mark Shulman is written in a journal format by Tod as he sits in detention with his guidance counselor. He's a "bad kid" who loathes everything about the establishment of school and has quite the humorous way of describing his dislikes to his reader. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Tod Munn is a bully. He's tough, but times are even tougher. The wimps have stopped coughing up their lunch money. The administration is cracking down. Then to make things worse, Tod and his friends get busted doing something bad. Something really bad.

Lucky Tod must spend his daily detention in a hot, empty room with Mrs. Woodrow, a no-nonsense guidance counselor. He doesn't know why he's there, but she does. Tod's punishment: to scrawl his story in a beat-up notebook. He can be painfully funny and he can be brutally honest. But can Mrs. Woodrow help Tod stop playing the bad guy before he actually turns into one . . . for real?

Read Tod's notebook for yourself.

Why I liked it: Scrawl is written in a journal format by Tod as he sits in detention with his guidance
Scrawl by Mark Shulman is written in a journal format by Tod as he sits in detention with his guidance counselor. He's a "bad kid" who loathes everything about the establishment of school and has quite the humorous way of describing his dislikes to his reader. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
counselor. Even though his first few entries jump from topic to topic, I was immediately drawn in by Tod's voice. He's a "bad kid" who loathes everything about the establishment of school and has quite the humorous way of describing his dislikes to his reader (whose terse voice in her occasional responses to his writing contrasts the detail in his writing). 

As Tod continues to write, it becomes clear that he isn't such a bad kid; he's more of a Robin Hood figure, taking lunch money from the nerds to cushion his own desperate existence. He slowly reveals the details of his dismal home life and his friendships with his "gang:" Bernie, Rex, and Rob. The four of them were involved in some sort of trouble that Tod eventually reveals. Besides doing what he needs to do to fend for himself, Tod looks out for Bernie, whose life is even messier than his own and does another good deed by providing the costumes for the school play. The novel ends with some twists that reaffirm Tod's Robin Hood status and the real "bad guys" finally get caught. 

Classroom application: Scrawl is my new favorite book to recommend to boys. Tod is funny and far from perfect, but still has a sense of what is truly right and wrong. There are some elements of crime in the book (theft, arson), but no other mature themes (nothing sexual or violent), so it would be appropriate for either a middle school or high school classroom library.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Scrawl for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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