Katie's mean treatment of a classmate results in expectable consequences. She meets with the principal, then weekly with a school counselor to learn more about "bullying behaviors." To make up for the hurt she caused, she turns her journal of those meetings into a book about bullying, narrated in a believable first-person voice. Borrowing design features from the popular Wimpy Kids series—lined paper, doodles and a typeface that imitates hand printing—this surprisingly useful self-help title is clearly aimed at upper-elementary-school readers. Among the "quick facts" Katie quotes (from studies cited in the backmatter) is that 74 percent of eight to 11-year-olds report that bullying occurs in their schools. While Katie used words, body language and silence to bully her friend Monica, she also describes cyber-bullying and physical bullying. Her counselor's six "empower tools" offer excellent responses beyond the well-meant but usually ineffective advice to ignore it, and she explains the difference between tattling—to hurt someone—and reporting—when someone is getting hurt. This fictional cure will resonate with its intended audience. (author's note, recommended resources for adults and children.ÃÂ (Fiction. 8-13)Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Katie, the antagonist of Ludwig's My Secret Bully, is back, this time narrating her own rehabilitation. Drawing on the tropes of the personal journal, the confessional, and the self-help shelf, this illustrated mock-notebook depicts how Katie, now in school-mandated counseling, owns up to her actions, deepens her understanding of "bullying behaviors" ("I used to think of bullying as only being physical"), and learns how to "become a better friend." Ludwig packs a lot of expertise and teachable moments into these pages, which often strains the authenticity of Katie's voice, leaving little sense of her character. An unfortunate reliance on quotes from famous people also prompts responses from Katie like, "Mr. Gandhi sure sounds a lot like my grandma." Adams, a debut illustrator who combines naïf drawings with collage, has the same problems: her pages often feel over-designed and glib. Still, bullies (and maybe victims) will undoubtedly recognize some of their own troubles as they follow Katie's journey. Ages 7-11. (Aug.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 3-6--In a fictional scrapbook, a self-confessed former bully recounts both her own actions as a perpetrator and the steps she took to rectify her behavior. Under the guise of giving an insider's look, Katie provides information about why bullies do what they do and some possible steps that targets and bystanders can take to stand up to them. Meant to offer advice, the insights occasionally feel too adult to be truly accessible to kids, but the language and casual writing style are age appropriate. Despite the moments when Katie's transformation seems too pat and convenient to be believable, the advice is sound and there are specific examples that will be helpful, even if older readers may feel as though they've heard it all before. Jotted notes, doodles, and related quotes are peppered throughout, adding to the scrapbook format. The illustrations are a mix of collage and drawings; they are fun but not particularly noteworthy. Further reading for children and adults, as well as the websites listed at the end of the book, are useful resources.--Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA[Page 79]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.