Death By Toilet Paper


Ever since his father died, things have been getting tighter and tighter for Benjamin (12) and his mom. Mom just lost her job; Mr. Katz just glued an eviction notice to their door; food options are nil and none, and grandpa Zeyde Jake just landed on their doorstep. It's hard to decide what they need most - time or money. Mom has to pass her final CPA exam, but she may not get the results fast enough. Benjamin wants to help his family, too. He made a promise to his dad that he intends to keep! He sets his sights on winning the contest sponsored by the Royal-T Bathroom Tissue company (and any other contest that catches his eye). He's clever and great with words, but will he have a winning slogan? 

BTSYA Teen Reader (15):
Books like these are usually not my cup of tea. The cover and title made me feel like this would be a story for much younger children. As I read it, though, I found this was not the case. It has a much deeper storyline than I initially thought. Benjamin’s story and the people who are in his life hit close to home, and I couldn’t help but admire this boy in his actions throughout his struggles. I would recommend this book for preteens and anyone older, despite any preconceptions against the book.  

Parent Perspective:
Ben narrates a nice story, but not a compelling one. The story has some humor, but for the most part is a downer. The facts about toilet paper at the beginning of each chapter are cute and interesting but don't do much to change the sadness that permeates Ben's life. For kids who are dealing with loss (or the sudden intrusion of an aging grandparent with dementia), this could be a comforting story. For the most part, though, it isn't one I'd rush to recommend.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers who like first-person stories may enjoy being part of seventh grader Benjamin Epstein's world. Preteens and teens who are struggling with loss or change could find a friend in Ben.

Content Awareness Factors:

The story is not a happy-go-lucky one. While it does have humor, it may not be as over-the-top as you might think based on the title.

Type of Book:
Ben narrates this middle grade novel about life, loss, and family.
Educational Themes:

This is a book meant to be read for fun. There are poignant moments that could open conversations between parents and kids. One of my favorite parts is the glossary of Yiddish terms in the back.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
9 to 13
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 15
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow. This is a well written book, but not one you'd save for reading again.

Title Death by Toilet Paper
Author Donna Gephart
Publisher Yearling © 2015
ISBN 0385374178
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.99
Genres Family, Humor, Death and Loss, Religion
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