IMWAYR: Death by Toilet Paper and Secret Hum

Last night standing in the doorway that leads to my bedroom, I was caught crying. Ben Epstein, the ever upbeat 12-year old protagonist of Death by Toilet Paper, was at a really low spot.  This lovely mixture of sad, hopeful, and funny book had just hit a heart-wrenching part.


Benjamin enters contests for fun, but after his dad’s death winning has become a necessity. To help his mom make ends meet, Ben is always on the lookout for ways to make money. Selling candy bars at school and crafting contest-winning advertising jingles are his specialties. Things are complicated further by school rules, bullies and when his memory-challenged zedye moves in.

The big contest win he’s hoping for is the Royal-T Toilet Paper Company’s grand prize of $10,000 for a new company slogan.

In keeping with the theme, every chapter starts with an interesting fact about toilet paper or toilets. I learned quite a bit.

Seven percent of Americans steal toilet paper from hotel and motel rooms.

The most expensive toilet is found at the international space station. NASA paid $19 million for a Russian-built system.

The average toilet lasts 50 years.

I love it when I find a winning read for both boys and girls. This book, with its mixture of drama, humor, and fun toilet facts, will entertain and sneakily inform my 5th graders.

Next up, The Secret Hum of a Daisy.


Raves from the twittersphere has pushed this to the top of my TBR pile.


8 thoughts on “IMWAYR: Death by Toilet Paper and Secret Hum

  1. I have been on the fence about reading Death by Toilet Paper. I think your post convinced me! Benjamin sounds like someone my students would connect with. I enjoy it when authors incorporate random facts into their books, too. 🙂

  2. I really loved Death by Toilet Paper. Such a surprise! I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting much. I mean, the cover is an image of toilet paper! But the book has such a heartfelt center. Definitely one of my favorite middle grades in 2014.

  3. I absolutely loved Secret Hum but didn’t want to recommend it to students. Was it too precious to me? Was I afraid they would not honor it? I did finally give it to Vanessa. She didn’t cry (She told me my book was the only one to make her cry. Not sure if this is good or bad.), but she did love the book like me.
    I haven’t heard of Death by Toilet Paper, but you make a compelling argument for me to look into getting it.

  4. Funny that Death By Toilet Paper didn’t “sound” good, but I thought it was awesome, too, the character, the plot-all plausible & delightful &, yes, sad too. You will like Secret Hum of A Daisy, too, Julieanne. I enjoyed it very much also, & felt some kinship to the main character. No matter the age, loss is hard, but the results & changes from loss make it doubly hard.

  5. I bought Death by Toilet Paper for my son just based on the recommendations of my “reading people” I plan to steal it from him. Secret Hum is a lovely read! Enjoy.

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