A young bully gets a second chance.
Eddie is clearly miserable and cranky, his feathers spiked up on his head and his yellow beak tilted downward. One could almost feel sorry for him if he weren’t such a pill. But Eddie's a big bully, physically and socially. He uses mean words—“ ‘You were born in a roach motel!’ he sneered at Russell”—and his unkind actions are documented in detail on the endpapers. “He was mean any way he could be, anytime he could be.” Frequent timeouts imposed by exasperated teachers just give Eddie more time to think of mean things to do. His classmates—anthropomorphized cartoon animals who play Person-Person-Monkey at recess—hold their breath as Carla, the new student, takes her seat next to Eddie. But Carla has the first word: “ ‘I LOVE your SWEATER,’ Carla gasped, feasting her eyes on Eddie.” Cole delivers a genuinely funny moment, with Eddie thoroughly nonplussed and unexpectedly redirected. Carla’s exuberant overture of friendship soon has Eddie regretting his mean deeds, wishing he had been a better classmate, and, Scrooge-like, deciding to become a model friend and helper. Cole’s exaggeratedly comic characters pull off this otherwise pat reversal.
Not a single, perfect solution to the complicated problem of bullying but a reminder that there are a few bullies who can actually be disarmed. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)