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It Wasn't Me

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"Every reader will find some piece of themselves in Levy's sharp, humorous, and heartfelt novel. A twisty mystery with quirky, unforgettable characters and a positive message to boot."
JOHN DAVID ANDERSON, the critically acclaimed author of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day and Posted

The Breakfast Club meets middle school with a prank twist in this hilarious and heartwarming story about six very different seventh graders who are forced to band together after a vandalism incident.


When Theo's photography project is mysteriously vandalized at school there are five suspected students who all say "it wasn't me."

Theo just wants to forget about the humiliating incident but his favorite teacher is determined to get to the bottom of it and has the six of them come into school over vacation to talk. She calls it "Justice Circle." The six students—the Nerd, the Princess, the Jock, the Screw Up, the Weirdo, and the Nobody—think of it as detention. AKA their worst nightmare.

That is until they realize they might get along after all, despite their differences. But what is everyone hiding and will school ever be the same?

*PW Best Books *Winter Kids' Indie Next List * JLG selection * Three starred reviews


"What at first seems like a novel solely about bullying becomes a story about six kids who find their way to true friendship and fierce loyalty, and why restorative justice is worth the time and effort it takes." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A timely, introspective whodunit with a lot of heart." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Levy writes in an easy style with laugh-out-loud humor, offering characters that slowly reveal deeper complexity." —School Library Journal, starred review



Dana Alison Levy is the author of many critically acclaimed novels including her latest middle grade, It Wasn't Me. She was born and raised in New England and studied English literature before going to graduate school for business. While there is value in all learning, had she known she would end up writing for a living, she might not have struggled through all those statistics and finance classes. Dana was last seen romping around with her family in Massachusetts. View titles by Dana Alison Levy

Day One Assessments

 

 

 

Shipton Middle School

 

 

 

Please fill out the following questions as honestly and completely as you can. There are no wrong answers.

 

 

 

Date: Feb. 18

 

Name: Molly Claremont

 

 

 

What happened and what were you thinking at the time of the incident?

 

I have LITERALLY NO IDEA. I was waiting to be picked up and I wandered into the student gallery, which isn’t a crime, last I checked. And the photos were totally ruined, which was really surprising and, you know, upsetting. Because of course our school is no place for vandalism and bullying.

 

But I just walked in there. And the next day, when someone opened the darkroom door and ruined Theo’s stuff again? That was horrible, and I feel so bad for him. Our community definitely needs to come together and make this a Bully-Free Zone. I should bring it up with student council. Maybe we can do a bake sale for Theo. Anyway, I realize I don’t have an alibi, but why would I touch his stuff?

 

I can’t see how it has anything to do with me.

 

 

 

What have you thought about since?

 

Well, to be totally honest (because we’re supposed to be honest here, right?), I’m mostly thinking how RIDICULOUS it is that I’m being blamed for ruining Theo’s photos. I’m sure it feels terrible for him, having his work destroyed like that, with people writing such horrible, embarrassing stuff. The whole school can’t stop talking about it. But still. It’s NOT MY FAULT.

 

 

 

What about this has been hardest for you?

 

Again, if I’m being honest, I CANNOT BELIEVE I HAVE TO SPEND AN ENTIRE WEEK HERE IN THIS DETENTION ROOM (or Justice Circle room, or whatever). I get that this is a big deal, but it wasn’t me.

 

 

 

What do you think needs to be done to make things as right as possible?

 

We’ll obviously need to establish a better Say No to Bullying campaign. I’ll definitely be bringing it up with the student council. We don’t want vandals and criminals in the school. But it has nothing to do with me. NOTHING.

 

 

 

Is there anything at all you’d like to share confidentially with Ms. Lewiston?

 

No.

 

 

 

Name: Andre Hall

 

 

 

What happened and what were you thinking at the time of the incident?

 

I dropped my bag off in the student gallery and went to the bathroom before going home. I didn’t want to bring my bag in with me because that bathroom floor is nasty. So I left my bag, then on the way back realized I had forgotten my lab notebook. It was fifteen minutes before I got back to the gallery, and by then Theo’s photos were totally ruined. Whoever it was, they weren’t playing. It was bad. But like I keep saying, I wasn’t even there. When I walked back to get my bag, there were a ton of people in the gallery, all freaking out.

 

 

 

What have you thought about since?

 

It was pretty intense. I’ve never seen anything like it at our school before. I mean, that was some severe destruction. And some rude stuff written on the photos of Theo. I’d want to transfer schools if that happened to me. And then the very next day someone messed with his stuff in the darkroom? It seems like someone’s got it in for him.

 

But I don’t know . . . does he have enemies or something? I barely know the guy. It’s not like he talks to me. And like I keep saying, I wasn’t even there until after.

 

 

 

What about this has been hardest for you?

 

It’s a bummer that no one even noticed that I wasn’t there, and that it was only my bag sitting on the bench. Though maybe whoever did it figured it would be better to have more suspects or something. I was planning on spending vacation week practicing a ton with my band, and now I’m stuck here. And since my bandmates go to a different school, it’s hard to get rehearsal time. We have some big stuff coming up, and we were counting on this week. But it’s obviously worse for Theo. I mean, he must be freaking out. I know I would be.

 

 

 

What do you think needs to be done to make things as right as possible?

 

I guess catch the guy who did it and make him apologize? Not really sure since I didn’t have anything to do with it.

 

 

 

Is there anything at all you’d like to share confidentially with Ms. Lewiston?

 

Just . . . how could nobody notice that I wasn’t there?

 

 

 

Name: Erik Estrale

 

 

 

What happened and what were you thinking at the time of the incident?

 

I don’t really remember. I had a huge game against Greenfield that night, and I was mostly thinking about whether I’d be starting point guard. (I was. I scored 19 points. It was a totally sick game. Coach gave me the Golden Jockstrap.)

 

 

 

What have you thought about since?

 

I don’t know. I didn’t do it, so I just want to get out of here.

 

 

 

What about this has been hardest for you?

 

I was supposed to do a full-day basketball camp this week with the whole team, and Coach was seriously mad when he heard I can’t make it. He said I shouldn’t expect to start if I get in trouble at school.

 

 

 

What do you think needs to be done to make things as right as possible?

 

I don’t know. I mean, I figure Theo must have made someone really mad. Like, is he in a fight with anyone? I feel really sorry for the guy. But I don’t know what to do for him.

 

 

 

Is there anything at all you’d like to share confidentially with Ms. Lewiston?

 

What happens if no one confesses at the end of this whole thing? Will it all go away?

  • NOMINEE | 2021
    Minnesota Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award
  • NOMINEE | 2020
    Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award


"Every reader will find some piece of themselves in Levy's sharp, humorous, and heartfelt novel. A twisty mystery with quirky, unforgettable characters and a positive message to boot."
—John David Anderson, the critically acclaimed author of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day and Posted
 
"What at first seems like a novel solely about bullying becomes a story about six kids who find their way to true friendship and fierce loyalty, and why restorative justice is worth the time and effort it takes." —Publishers Weekly, starred 

"A timely, introspective whodunit with a lot of heart." —Kirkus Reviews, starred 

"Levy writes in an easy style with laugh-out-loud humor, offering characters that slowly reveal deeper complexity." —School Library Journal, starred

About

"Every reader will find some piece of themselves in Levy's sharp, humorous, and heartfelt novel. A twisty mystery with quirky, unforgettable characters and a positive message to boot."
JOHN DAVID ANDERSON, the critically acclaimed author of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day and Posted

The Breakfast Club meets middle school with a prank twist in this hilarious and heartwarming story about six very different seventh graders who are forced to band together after a vandalism incident.


When Theo's photography project is mysteriously vandalized at school there are five suspected students who all say "it wasn't me."

Theo just wants to forget about the humiliating incident but his favorite teacher is determined to get to the bottom of it and has the six of them come into school over vacation to talk. She calls it "Justice Circle." The six students—the Nerd, the Princess, the Jock, the Screw Up, the Weirdo, and the Nobody—think of it as detention. AKA their worst nightmare.

That is until they realize they might get along after all, despite their differences. But what is everyone hiding and will school ever be the same?

*PW Best Books *Winter Kids' Indie Next List * JLG selection * Three starred reviews


"What at first seems like a novel solely about bullying becomes a story about six kids who find their way to true friendship and fierce loyalty, and why restorative justice is worth the time and effort it takes." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A timely, introspective whodunit with a lot of heart." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Levy writes in an easy style with laugh-out-loud humor, offering characters that slowly reveal deeper complexity." —School Library Journal, starred review



Author

Dana Alison Levy is the author of many critically acclaimed novels including her latest middle grade, It Wasn't Me. She was born and raised in New England and studied English literature before going to graduate school for business. While there is value in all learning, had she known she would end up writing for a living, she might not have struggled through all those statistics and finance classes. Dana was last seen romping around with her family in Massachusetts. View titles by Dana Alison Levy

Excerpt

Day One Assessments

 

 

 

Shipton Middle School

 

 

 

Please fill out the following questions as honestly and completely as you can. There are no wrong answers.

 

 

 

Date: Feb. 18

 

Name: Molly Claremont

 

 

 

What happened and what were you thinking at the time of the incident?

 

I have LITERALLY NO IDEA. I was waiting to be picked up and I wandered into the student gallery, which isn’t a crime, last I checked. And the photos were totally ruined, which was really surprising and, you know, upsetting. Because of course our school is no place for vandalism and bullying.

 

But I just walked in there. And the next day, when someone opened the darkroom door and ruined Theo’s stuff again? That was horrible, and I feel so bad for him. Our community definitely needs to come together and make this a Bully-Free Zone. I should bring it up with student council. Maybe we can do a bake sale for Theo. Anyway, I realize I don’t have an alibi, but why would I touch his stuff?

 

I can’t see how it has anything to do with me.

 

 

 

What have you thought about since?

 

Well, to be totally honest (because we’re supposed to be honest here, right?), I’m mostly thinking how RIDICULOUS it is that I’m being blamed for ruining Theo’s photos. I’m sure it feels terrible for him, having his work destroyed like that, with people writing such horrible, embarrassing stuff. The whole school can’t stop talking about it. But still. It’s NOT MY FAULT.

 

 

 

What about this has been hardest for you?

 

Again, if I’m being honest, I CANNOT BELIEVE I HAVE TO SPEND AN ENTIRE WEEK HERE IN THIS DETENTION ROOM (or Justice Circle room, or whatever). I get that this is a big deal, but it wasn’t me.

 

 

 

What do you think needs to be done to make things as right as possible?

 

We’ll obviously need to establish a better Say No to Bullying campaign. I’ll definitely be bringing it up with the student council. We don’t want vandals and criminals in the school. But it has nothing to do with me. NOTHING.

 

 

 

Is there anything at all you’d like to share confidentially with Ms. Lewiston?

 

No.

 

 

 

Name: Andre Hall

 

 

 

What happened and what were you thinking at the time of the incident?

 

I dropped my bag off in the student gallery and went to the bathroom before going home. I didn’t want to bring my bag in with me because that bathroom floor is nasty. So I left my bag, then on the way back realized I had forgotten my lab notebook. It was fifteen minutes before I got back to the gallery, and by then Theo’s photos were totally ruined. Whoever it was, they weren’t playing. It was bad. But like I keep saying, I wasn’t even there. When I walked back to get my bag, there were a ton of people in the gallery, all freaking out.

 

 

 

What have you thought about since?

 

It was pretty intense. I’ve never seen anything like it at our school before. I mean, that was some severe destruction. And some rude stuff written on the photos of Theo. I’d want to transfer schools if that happened to me. And then the very next day someone messed with his stuff in the darkroom? It seems like someone’s got it in for him.

 

But I don’t know . . . does he have enemies or something? I barely know the guy. It’s not like he talks to me. And like I keep saying, I wasn’t even there until after.

 

 

 

What about this has been hardest for you?

 

It’s a bummer that no one even noticed that I wasn’t there, and that it was only my bag sitting on the bench. Though maybe whoever did it figured it would be better to have more suspects or something. I was planning on spending vacation week practicing a ton with my band, and now I’m stuck here. And since my bandmates go to a different school, it’s hard to get rehearsal time. We have some big stuff coming up, and we were counting on this week. But it’s obviously worse for Theo. I mean, he must be freaking out. I know I would be.

 

 

 

What do you think needs to be done to make things as right as possible?

 

I guess catch the guy who did it and make him apologize? Not really sure since I didn’t have anything to do with it.

 

 

 

Is there anything at all you’d like to share confidentially with Ms. Lewiston?

 

Just . . . how could nobody notice that I wasn’t there?

 

 

 

Name: Erik Estrale

 

 

 

What happened and what were you thinking at the time of the incident?

 

I don’t really remember. I had a huge game against Greenfield that night, and I was mostly thinking about whether I’d be starting point guard. (I was. I scored 19 points. It was a totally sick game. Coach gave me the Golden Jockstrap.)

 

 

 

What have you thought about since?

 

I don’t know. I didn’t do it, so I just want to get out of here.

 

 

 

What about this has been hardest for you?

 

I was supposed to do a full-day basketball camp this week with the whole team, and Coach was seriously mad when he heard I can’t make it. He said I shouldn’t expect to start if I get in trouble at school.

 

 

 

What do you think needs to be done to make things as right as possible?

 

I don’t know. I mean, I figure Theo must have made someone really mad. Like, is he in a fight with anyone? I feel really sorry for the guy. But I don’t know what to do for him.

 

 

 

Is there anything at all you’d like to share confidentially with Ms. Lewiston?

 

What happens if no one confesses at the end of this whole thing? Will it all go away?

Awards

  • NOMINEE | 2021
    Minnesota Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award
  • NOMINEE | 2020
    Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award

Praise



"Every reader will find some piece of themselves in Levy's sharp, humorous, and heartfelt novel. A twisty mystery with quirky, unforgettable characters and a positive message to boot."
—John David Anderson, the critically acclaimed author of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day and Posted
 
"What at first seems like a novel solely about bullying becomes a story about six kids who find their way to true friendship and fierce loyalty, and why restorative justice is worth the time and effort it takes." —Publishers Weekly, starred 

"A timely, introspective whodunit with a lot of heart." —Kirkus Reviews, starred 

"Levy writes in an easy style with laugh-out-loud humor, offering characters that slowly reveal deeper complexity." —School Library Journal, starred

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