Useful ideas about dealing with bullies, wrapped in a loving hug.

Bully Proof


A debut guide advises adults who want to help children eliminate bullying.

In his book, Leigh-Smith writes that when children come to him “saying that they have a bully in their life, the first thing that I do is congratulate them.” This upbeat, brains-over-brawn approach urges children to think of getting bullied as a challenging opportunity for personal improvement and growth, rather than as a negative encounter. This manual details 28 concepts and 20 hands-on strategies for extinguishing a bully’s fire, providing tips on how to ignore or deflect taunts. Part I highlights concepts—such as the different types of bullying—and lays the foundation for helping children understand their own self-worth. Confident kids with healthy self-esteem shed the “victim mentality,” asserts the author, and are less likely to be targets. Part II offers easy activities for building a child’s self-esteem. For example, kids can draw a “Dream Board” of desired life goals to help visualize their futures. According to the author, a child with an anti-bullying team of adults and a larger circle of friends is also less likely to attract bullies. Part III explores how youngsters can develop positive relationships with others. This gentle, thoughtful, and amicable manual sometimes delivers eyebrow-raising advice: telling a small child who has been pounded by a big kid to be empathetic with the perpetrator seems more like fantasy and less like the real world. But the author does present several practical points, including how to cope with cyber-bullies and document persistent harassment. For the novice, some of the mental tips are refreshingly new; for example, Leigh-Smith recommends that a child never stand still when confronted by a bully, as even slight shifts of the body can keep the mind from “freezing.” Embellished with debut illustrator Niebler’s cute black-and-white drawings, the pleasant, readable chapters flow easily and end with key concepts. Leigh-Smith’s conversational stories and sayings are memorable; for example, kids are urged to hold friends like water in their palms, instead of becoming too clingy. When all else fails, the author recommends physical self-defense (he is partial to martial arts) to escape a foe as quickly as possible.

Useful ideas about dealing with bullies, wrapped in a loving hug.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-9162-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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