After class-bully Tod and his "droogs" get caught vandalizing school property, his punishment is to spend every day in after-school detention writing in a notebook. "About anything?" he asks Mrs. Woodrow, his jailer and guidance counselor. "Okay. Fine. You asked for it. I'll write about this desk. I hate this desk."
The classic smarter-than-his-teachers underachiever with a rotten home life, Tod has a real way with words (the way he crashes, then dominates the spelling bee is priceless), and he soon warms to his enforced writing therapy. Some readers might wish he'd stayed a little more bottled up though-his wordy tendencies sometimes drag the narrative-but Shulman establishes a nice voice for him, as Tod rips jokes so dry they can float away and shows some real heart dealing with his less-than-desirable lot in life. Much to his droogs' horror, he gets involved making costumes for the school play, and his increasingly confrontational clashes with them spell both trouble and growth.
"Scrawl" by Mark Schulman was an excellent read. Although it started out slow and kind of rocky, readers soon discover another, well hidden side, of Tod. although the character isn't extremely relatable, he gets you thinking why he acts the way he does. The book is basically a copy of Tod's detention notebook (he refuses to call it a journal) that makes you wonder how Tod got into this mess on the first place.
I would recommend this to all readers fifth grade in up, because of some mildly bad language, especially those with a pull toward realistic fiction. The book is fairly short, but keeps you guessing until the end.