Doing Time Online

Twelve-year-old Mitchell got involved with the wrong kid this past summer, and the prank they played led to an elderly woman’s injury. Now he finds himself at the police station—his “sentence” is to chat online with a nursing home resident twice a week for the next month. Mitch isn’t thrilled; what could he and some “old” person possibly talk about? But Mitch’s new online friend has a personality all her own. Her name is Wootie Hayes, and she has plenty to talk about: how she got her name, how much she misses her own home, and how she detests bingo. But she also wants to know about Mitch’s situation. Without expecting it, they help each other face the truth and begin a new friendship in the process.

  • 96 Pages
  • 5.5" x 8"
  • 9780807516652
  • January 2002

Buy from Albert Whitman

  • 9780807516669
  • March 2015

Other Places to Buy


  • Siebold uses a simple diary format that includes Mitch’s electronic conversations with his elderly friend to create an effective, contemporary novel dealing with everyday pressures that most students face. This is a book that will definitely appeal to a wide variety of readers…E-mail gives a current twist to the idea of making the punishment fit the crime; the current plot combined with skillful writing will attract even the most recalcitrant readers.

    - School Library Journal

  • One young man’s punishment becomes an elderly woman’s hope in the confines of an Internet chatroom. This intriguing narrative thinks outside the box, and should inspire more experiments with programs like the one presented here…Siebold’s dialogue—online and not—and first-person narrative furthers this coming-of-age story without extraneous judgments. It’s a win-win story that would make Officer MacDougal proud.

    - Kirkus Reviews

  • Siebold pushes beyond formula bibliotherapy here—not only because the computer chat is fun and easy to read but also because Mitch and Wootie are realistic characters, sharp and funny, assertive and needy…what’s best here has nothing to do with bullies or computer chat: it’s the background story, told by Mitch, of his home life with his widower dad, a beautifully drawn portrait of a nurturing single parent.

    - Booklist

Awards & Accolades

  • 2004-2005 Maude Hart Lovelace Book Award Master List
  • 2004-2005 Charlie May Simon Children's Book Award Reading List
  • 2004 Maryland Children's Book Award Master List
  • 2003-2004 Sunshine State Young Reader's Award Master List
  • 2004-2005 Volunteer State Book Award Master List
  • 2004-2005 Iowa Children's Choice Award Master List
  • 2005 Sequoyah Children's Book Award Master List
  • 2005 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award Master List
  • 2003-2004 Great Stone Face Award Master List
  • 2004-2005 Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award Master List
  • 2005 Sasquatch Reading Award Master List

Common Core

RL.3.1,2,3,4,5,6 RL.4.1,2,3,4,5,6,10 RL.5.1,2,3,4,5,6,10


  • Accelerated Reader Points: 2.00
  • ATOS Level: 3.90