At last: a humorous, useful and pedantry-free book about bullying!
Woodrow and his classmates are surprised at the old-fashioned clothing and the tiny, delicate appearance of Toulouse, a newly arrived student from Canada. Is this Woodrow’s opportunity to pass his own victim status to someone else? Woodrow openly admits his acknowledged dorkiness, as in his fondness for “duck tape,” his hesitant speech patterns and that time he got chopsticks stuck in his throat pretending to be a badger. His first-person account of befriending someone even weirder than himself divulges such truths as school-playground hierarchies, adults’ proficiency or lack thereof at handling bullying behaviors, and “kid rules” that enable bullies. Woodrow risks regaining his place as top victim as he decides to befriend and protect Toulouse, who has drawn unwanted attention to himself with such anomalies as his bowler hats and his furry vomit. While enjoying every minute of Woodrow’s slow discovery that Toulouse is actually an owl—and the even more amazing fact that no one else reaches that conclusion—readers also learn about the psychology behind bullying and about self-empowerment. The rhythm of the prose is perfect for independent readers and for reading aloud; clever art, music and literature references add to the fun.
Jennings does not skip a beat as he builds realistic relationships and problem-solving around an outrageously funny premise. (Fiction. 8-12)