Benjamin Epstein is a slogan-swinging seventh grader with a bunch of grown-up problems. But he will not give up hope. All he needs to do is come up with a grand-prize-worthy slogan, and all those problems will be solved.
Ever since Benjamin’s dad passed away, Ben and his mom have followed Dad’s grand plan. Mom needs to study and pass her CPA exam so she can stop waitressing. Ben needs to do well in school and stay out of trouble. But when money runs short, an eviction notice gets plastered to their door and Zayde Jake moves in. Ben needs to earn some money and fast! He has to write a slogan that will win a grand prize — perhaps from the Royal‑T Bathroom Tissue Company.
Readers will enjoy the fun facts about toilet paper almost as much as the letters between Ben and Ed Chase, the Community Relations Representative of Royal‑T Bathroom Tissue. But this is more than a book about toilet paper trivia. Death By Toilet Paper is about the power of optimism, family, and friendship. It’s about hope and imagination — and forgiveness, too. The relationship between Ben and Zayde Jake, who is beginning to lose his memory, will stay with readers. Although the bully subplot and Jewish content (limited to menu options and schmaltzy Yiddish dialogue) feel a bit clichéd, readers will love the satisfying conclusion of this kind and humorous tale. There’s a lot more than toilet paper jokes in this novel. It’s got heart.
Highly recommended for readers 10 and up.