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BULLIES AND PEEPS

A thoughtful and entertaining look at both sides of the bullying dynamic.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

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Two girls struggle with rivalries and self-acceptance in this debut middle-grade novel.

Even before the school year begins, fifth grader Hannah Hardy has been plotting revenge against her classmate Meg Greene for a pointed remark she made last spring break. Hannah also looks down on Meg for her messy hair and unfashionable clothes. Hannah’s goal is to make Meg “sad and lonely” by getting her friend Alexis Martinez to drop her through the tempting prospect of entry into the bully’s popular group. Hannah’s scheme works, but that’s not enough when Meg annoys her further on the first day of school by noticing geese nesting in the courtyard. The school makes the area off-limits, foiling Hannah’s plans to sit on the courtyard’s benches at recess. Hannah steps up her bullying; she calls Meg “Goose Girl,” a name that catches on. But Hannah doesn’t have things all her own way. First, classmate Jack Eddy defends Meg, and teachers help her. Hannah gets in trouble for her behavior, and Meg rescues a gosling that she names Garrett. To Hannah’s disgust, Meg starts becoming more popular than she is. After a showdown, both girls come to recognize that they have opportunities for self-improvement. In his book, Suhre uses alternating point-of-view chapters, each with an authentic voice, to give insights into both the bully’s and the victim’s perspectives. For example, Meg comes to admit that not brushing her hair or wearing clean clothes “made me a bigger target.” Hannah, it develops, has several reasons for her behavior and has some admirable gifts as well. Realistically, the girls aren’t meant to be best pals, but a mature detente is possible. In addition, the goose family provides a nice metaphor for growing up, with fledglings learning to spread their wings.

A thoughtful and entertaining look at both sides of the bullying dynamic.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73559-870-3

Page Count: 172

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2021

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

GHOSTS

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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