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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Fans of Stargirl and Maniac Magee rejoice! Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli delivers a brilliant new novel about being bold, and taking charge of your life. Worm Tarnauer has spent most of eighth grade living down to his nickname. He prefers to be out of sight, underground. He walked the world unseen. He's happy to let his best friend, Eddie, lead the way and rule the day. And this day--Dead …

Dead Wednesday

by Jerry Spinelli

Overall Book Review:

Jerry Spinelli is the author of the beloved Stargirl, and thus, this book comes packed with high expectations.  This coming-of-age story has a contemporary setting, but there is an element of the supernatural when Robbie aka Worm has an impossible encounter with Becca, age 17.  This book is intriguing because Spinelli doesn’t telegraph his destination.  There is not a lot of action and there is a lot of introspection.

Did Mr. Spinelli deliver?  While this was a good read, it doesn’t achieve the impact that Stargirl and Maniac McGee have on a reader.  Of course, that is a pretty high standard to be held to.  Although Amazon lists the recommended grade level as fifth and sixth, this book is a good fit for both upper middle grade reader and young adult readers.  The age of the characters and the themes are relatable especially to ages 14 and older.  A recommended read for those looking for permission to be themselves.

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy provided by the Publisher

Content Analysis

Profanity/Language:  3 religious exclamations; 4 mild obscenities; 3 anatomical terms.

Violence/Gore:  Character thinks about being a worm and crawling up the nose of someone he doesn’t like; reference to dead kids; report of deaths years ago in a car accident; character feels like he standing on a chair with a rope around his neck (metaphor); statement boys are stronger and a boy could beat up his mother with one hand behind his back if he wanted; report of running over a turtle by accident; report of how someone died in an accident (non-graphic); statement that a bug will bite off its feet; boy shoves girl who lands on her butt

Sex/Nudity:  A boy likes girls; boys eye an attractive girl; reference to kissing; girl kisses a boy; flirting; hug; hold hands; reference to boyfriend; boy thinks about putting arm around girl; report of kissing boyfriend; boy can feel girl’s breast against his shoulder; innuendo; reference to a girl panting; report of someone “snoogling up”.

Mature Subject Matter


Alcohol / Drug Use

High school kids flip a cigarette at an 8th grader while he is walking; general reference to deaths in drinking and driving accidents; statement that Dead Wednesday isn’t going to stop someone from having a beer.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!