Reviews for Bully Bait

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #2
Seventh-grade loner Nick Ramsey is so short he fits into his locker, a fact he knows well, thanks to bully Roy. Nick can only confront him surreptitiously by sending taunting texts as mysterious, self-assured "Max." Guidance counselor Dr. Daniels decides Nick needs to belong to a group and assigns him to safety patrol, along with two other bullied loner misfits, supertall Molly and overweight, geeky Karl. Soon the none-too-enthused trio, guided by offbeat, philosophical janitor Mr. Dupree, set out to stop bullying. But amidst high jinks and missteps, they discover the meaning of friendship and compassion, and find confidence along the way. With generously interspersed witty cartoon drawings (final art not seen), the first Odd Squad title offers an entertaining take on some familiar themes by blending humor, absurdity, and realism into a supportive message. Despite occasional story predictabilities, narrator Nick is an engaging antihero whose issues and dilemmas are sympathetically portrayed. Sundry side characters, including Nick's quirky grandma, Memaw, further enliven this enjoyable read, which is likely to appeal to Wimpy Kid readers. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
"Shortest kid on the planet," Nick is bullied incessantly. When he and two other misfits are forced into Safety Patrol by the middle-school guidance counselor as "a place to belong," the three attempt to disarm their bully. Aided by a crazy janitor and (perhaps) Emily Dickinson's ghost, Nick discovers a few things about himself along the way. Wimpy Kid style illustrations are entertaining.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 January #1
In an illustrated novel, the first in a proposed series, cartoonist Fry (Over the Hedge) humorously mines the world of middle school as seen through the eyes of bullied Nick to answer the question: Can three oddballs team together to take down the school bully? Nick, surely the shortest 12-year-old ever, spends his school days being stuffed in lockers by Roy. To counter their social isolation, Nick's guidance counselor forces Nick and too-tall Molly to join nerdy Karl in the lamest club ever: Safety Patrol. Mr. Dupree, a Shakespeare-quoting hippie janitor who is able to arm fart "Greensleeves," advises them to take control with a series of hilarious attempts to get back at Roy--until the kids develop some empathy for Roy and realize they are bullying him. Mr. Dupree's wacky antics as he advises the kids to "bring the crazy" are frankly bizarre. Much that the Odd Squad does to get to Roy (stealing, breaking into school records) is not admirable. But this gives the characters dimension: The bully is not all bad; the bullied are not all good. Abundant cartoon-style illustrations enhance the book's silly yet sensitive portrayal of bullying and unlikely friendships. An important message, humorously delivered, that will appeal to Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 December #3

Fry, co-creator of the comic strip Over the Hedge, makes his children's book debut with an illustrated novel, first in the Odd Squad series, starring 12-year-old social outcast Nick. As the story opens, school counselor Dr. Daniels has decided that Nick and two other friendless kids, Karl and Molly, need to team up to avoid being singled out by bullies. Nick and Molly resist initially (Dr. Daniels wants them to join the ultra-dorky safety patrol, whose sole member is clingy Karl), but the three soon develop a plan to get back at school bully Roy, who has been tormenting them. Intermingled throughout is speculation about the ghost of Emily Dickinson, who supposedly haunts the middle school. Fry's antic illustrations are a mix of charts, slapstick gags, and comics sequences, which provide welcome breaks from Nick's long-winded narration. The circuitous story line and the book's many over-the-top characters and pratfalls can get in the way of the points Fry tries to make about friendship, bullying, and outward appearances. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 April

Gr 4-7--Seventh-grader Nick spends more time inside his locker than out. Roy, the school bully, constantly tracks him down and throws him in there. When Nick ends up in the guidance counselor's office for the umpteenth time, she assigns him to a group of other misfits called the Safety Patrol. She is convinced that if they form a bond and overcome their "peer allergies" together, they will no longer be targets for bullying. The three kids do have something in common-Roy. As much as they get on one another's nerves, they decide to band together to take him on. Though the plot gets downright silly and a bit confusing at times, the theme of friendship and, eventually, empathy for one another and for the bully, does shine through. The small cartoon illustrations on almost every page are the highlight of the book. They are clever and help clarify some of the story. Especially funny are the depictions of Nick's yoga-practicing grandmother, Meemaw, who always has the perfect wisecrack to sum up a situation. The first of a series, this title will be enjoyed by fans of Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books (Abrams).--Tina Martin, Arlington Heights Memorial Library, IL

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