The Not-So-Boring Letters of Private Nobody

 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
1067 0
The Not-So-Boring Letters of Private Nobody
Publisher
Age Range
10+
Release Date
February 13, 2018
ISBN
978-0735227989
Buy This Book
      
Twelve-year-old Oliver Prichard is obsessed with the Civil War. He knows everything about it: the battles, the generals, every movement of the Union and Confederate Armies. So when the last assignment of seventh-grade history is a project on the Civil War, Oliver is over the moon--until he's partnered with Ella Berry, the slacker girl with the messy hair who does nothing but stare out the window. And when Oliver finds out they have to research a random soldier named Private Raymond Stone who didn't even fight in any battles before dying of some boring disease, Oliver knows he's doomed.

But Ella turns out to be very different from what Oliver expected. As the partners film their documentary about Private Stone--with Oliver's friend Kevin signing on as their head writing consultant--Oliver discovers that sometimes the most interesting things are hiding in uninteresting places. Even Private Stone is better than expected: There's a mystery buried in his past, and Oliver knows he can figure it out.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Favorite Book of 2018
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Oliver is very interested in all of the details of the Civil War, so he's thrilled when his 7th grade social studies class is ready to study it. He's less thrilled when Mr. Carrow tells him that he will be working with Ella, and that their topic is a local man, Private Raymond Stone, who died of dysentery without even fighting. It doesn't help that Ella, who hides behind messy hair and disheveled clothes, is in danger of flunking 7th grade unless she does well on the project. Uncomfortable with talking to others, Oliver asks Mr. Carrow if he can work alone on a different topic, and is told no. Ella turns out to be surprisingly smart, and her failing schoolwork and lackadaisical appearance are her way of rebelling against her work obsessed parents who idolize her older sister. After she asks if another classmate, Kevin, is his friend, Oliver realizes that Kevin is one of the few people he would consider a friend, even though Kevin is more interested in his WattPad following than in the Civil War, which is the only topic of conversation Oliver usually has.

After making his peace with Kevin and Ella, the social studies project gets off to a bit of a rocky start. Ella invites herself to his house to work on it, which makes his mother ridiculously happy. Ella is happy, too, eating goldfish crackers and tacos and "forgetting" to text her parents her whereabouts. After visiting a local history center, Oliver and Ella get interesting information about their subject, and do some great research in order to flesh out their documentary. Kevin is enlisted to help with the writing, and Oliver's parents even take the group to Gettysburg to investigate further. The project starts to come together nicely, and Oliver starts to realize that he might "like like" Ella, which adds an interesting wrinkle to the proceedings.
Good Points
The beginning of this was so hysterically funny that I was immediately sucked in, and the details of life in middle school are so brilliantly accurate that I was not surprised to find that Mr. Landis teaches middle school history! Every interaction is pitch perfect and full of humor.

The characters are all a little quirky, but I have definitely seen children exactly like this. There are no dead parents, but the children all struggle a bit with their upbringing. Oliver feels that his parents watch him a bit too closely, and he's really annoyed with his sister's piano playing. Ella's parents are constantly on the phone with work when she is with them, and failing in school is the only way she feels she can get their attention. While we don't see as much of Kevin's parents, he does comment that his Asian parents are not thrilled with his creative writing, and would much prefer him to excel in math, science, or music. These are just the types of struggles that middle grade students face much more than death, depression or other super serious issues, but they are struggles that do impact students' daily lives. It's great to see them addressed.

The budding romance between Ella and Oliver made me so happy. It was painfully awkward but realistically portrayed. First romances are full of a lot of angst that adults don't take seriously enough. How close can I sit to the girl? Will she hold my hand? Can I call? Text? What do I say? These are very real problems, and seeing them in a book help readers understand that they are not alone. There's an inevitable misunderstanding, but an epic apology that makes the entire book worth reading, just for that scene.

How much did I love this book? I've spent the last of the the school board money for the year, but unearthed some gift cards when I was cleaning. I am going to order three copies so I don't have to wait until next year to give this book to my students.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Secondhand Dogs
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A heartwarming—and heart-tugging—middle grade novel about love, loyalty, and what...
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Road Trip
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Join everyone's favorite Wildcats from the Disney+ smash hit original...
I'll Meet You in Your Dreams
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A heartwarming text honoring the ever-evolving relationship of a parent...
Colors of Habitats
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The brand-new sequel to a well-reviewed bestseller that has been...
Noble Thief (Fantasy and Fairytales Book 6)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A prince of two kingdoms. A woman fighting against the...
10 Truths and a Dare
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
It's Senior Party Week, that magical in-between time after classes...
All These Bodies
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation. ...
The Beautiful Ones
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and...
I Am the Shark
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
What makes the great white shark (one of) the greatest...
Made in Korea
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank in this feel-good romantic...
Take Me Home Tonight
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets Nick and Nora’s Infinite...
The People We Choose
 
3.3
 
5.0 (1)
When 17-year-old Calliope meets her new neighbor Max, their...
Hurricane Summer
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
In this sweeping debut, Asha Bromfield takes readers to...
Slingshot
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
An exciting debut contemporary young adult novel perfect for...
The Keeper of Night
 
0.0
 
5.0 (1)
Death is her destiny. Half...
The Girls are Never Gone
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Conjuring meets Sadie when seventeen-year-old podcaster Dare takes an...

Latest Member Reviews

Secondhand Dogs
 
5.0
"Gus is the pack leader at Miss Lottie's house, and has kept the peace well with excitable Roo, loyal and..."
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Road Trip
 
4.0
"HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE SERIES: THE ROAD TRIP is a fun book that compliments the show by diving..."
I'll Meet You in Your Dreams
 
5.0
"I'LL MEET YOU IN YOUR DREAMS is a gorgeously illustrated picture book about parental love that spans space and time...."
No Adults Allowed (Super Sidekicks #1)
 
4.5
"This is a cute read! No Adults Allowed is the first book in a new series from author Gavin Aung..."
The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans, #1)
 
5.0
"THE LAST FALLEN STAR is a thrilling epic fantasy. Riley Oh is a saram, a person without magic, adopted by..."
I Don't Want to Go to School
 
3.5
"I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL features Dinosaur and Mouse, who are both scared of their first day of..."
The Mother of Monsters
 
4.5
"‘The Mother of Monsters’ by Fran Parnell, illustrated by Sophie Fatus, tells the story of Ntombi, the chief's daughter. She..."
Grim, Grunt and Grizzle-Tail: A Story from Chile
 
4.5
"‘Grim, Grunt and Grizzle-Tail’ by Fran Parnell, illustrated by Sophie Fatus, is great for younger elementary readers and anyone who..."
Baseball Baby
 
5.0
"BASEBALL BABY is a delightful board book about baseball. The book begins with heading to the park to play baseball..."
I Am Not a Penguin
 
4.0
"I AM NOT A PENGUIN is a silly picture book that manages to teach young readers about pangolins. A pangolin..."
Sam Can't Sleep
 
4.5
"SAM CAN'T SLEEP is a fun picture book read that introduces the concept of nocturnal animals. It's nighttime, and all..."
Welcome to California
 
4.0
"WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA is a fun picture book of facts about the state. It covers topics from the state capitol..."
Zoom: Dinosaur Adventure
 
4.5
"ZOOM: DINOSAUR ADVENTURE takes the reader on a journey to the time of the dinosaurs. Jamie and Jasmine are going..."
Let's Pretend Fire Station
 
5.0
"LET'S PRETEND FIRE STATION is a delightful peek-through board book about firefighters. The book features pictures of children, firetrucks, and..."
Rosa Loves Dinosaurs / A Rosa Le Encantan Los Dinosaurios
 
3.5
"ROSA LOVES DINOSAURS/ A ROSA LE ENCANTAN LOS DINOSAURIOS is a fun bilingual board book about a love of dinosaurs...."
Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch
 
5.0
"Eva Evergreen is a young witch about to embark on her Novice Quest. As the daughter of one of the..."
Homer on the Case
 
4.5
"HOMER ON THE CASE is a delightful middle grade mystery, featuring unlikely detectives. Homer, a homing pigeon, and Lulu, a..."
The Thingity-Jig
 
5.0
"THE THINGITY-JIG is a fun picture book read about invention and friendship. Although all his friends are asleep, Bear feels..."
Bridge of Souls (City of Ghosts #3)
 
4.0
"What worked: This is a satisfying conclusion to City of Ghosts series. Engaging characters, fast-paced plot, and spooky magic woven..."
This is Your World
 
5.0
"THIS IS YOUR WORLD is a lovely picture book that introduces the world and the importance of taking care of..."