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Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey


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About the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin series, and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at


Gr 7-12‘Margaret Peterson Haddix (S&S Childrens, 1996) provides an excellent, realistic portrayal of life through the eyes of a 16-year-old in a very dysfunctional family. Tish reveals her family problems in a journal for her English assignment since her teacher has promised only to read what the students request her to read. For Tish the writing becomes a lifeline as she cannot tell her friends what is happening at home. Alyssa Bresnahan reads Tish's entries with a tender, gentle voice that shows all emotions. Teen listeners will particularly like the way she reenacts the teen dialog and sarcasm. Bresnahan's voice portrays Tish as worried, frightened by bills, and forsaken when first her abusive father departs and then her mentally-ill mother leaves, and Tish must care for the house and her little brother. She portrays Tish's attempt to be self-confident and detached, but there is the appropriate uncertainty as Tish tries to make adult decisions. An excellent addition to audiobook collections.‘Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA

Haddix (Running Out of Time) offers a tough-edged if familiar story of a beleaguered high school girl who confides the difficulties of her life to a journal in an assignment for English class; the title refers to the label the heroine gives every entry so that her teacher, the true-to-her-word Mrs. Dunphrey, will only look at the completed writing and not actually read the sensitive contents. With an abusive and mostly absentee father, a depressed mother, and only a part-time job at Burger Boy to pay for her food and clothes‘as well as for her little brother Matthew's‘Tish Bonner seems headed for a crisis. At her lowest point, penniless and starving after her mother's abandonment and after she is fired by a manager whose sexual advances she has refused, Tish shoplifts from a grocery store to feed herself and Matthew‘and then faces being evicted from her home. Because the journal is the sole outlet for Tish's inner turmoil, the tone here shifts only in terms of varying shades of anger. Meanwhile, Mrs. Dunphrey, a model of teacherly concern, writes brief comments to express her appreciation of Tish's lengthy entries and to ask Tish to let her read some of them. YA readers will be not in the least surprised that Tish finally turns over her entire journal for Mrs. Dunphrey's perusal as a way of getting help, and that Mrs. Dunphrey comes through in the best sensitive-English-teacher tradition. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

"The peeking-into-a-life appeal of the journal format combined with the realism of Tish's plight will satisfy readers looking for high drama with a gritty edge."--BCCB

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