Sunday, March 4, 2018

Bully on the bus by Kathryn Apel

I peek into my schoolbag,
see my treasure and
start to count
the stars ...

'Whatcha got, Loser?'
the bully demands,
booming over 
the back of my seat.

As the title says this book is about a bully. An older girl who rides the same bus as Leroy and his sister Ruby. The bus driver is friendly but he seems oblivious to the awful treatment Leroy has to endure every day.  Ruby is there too but she is too fearful to intervene. Leroy doesn't tell his parents and over time he becomes almost ill with the fear of riding the bus twice each day. Meanwhile the bullying just seems to get worse and worse.

Bully on the bus will take you on an emotional journey figuratively and literally.  There were times reading this book that I just had to stop and take a breath and reassure myself that because this is a children's book, aimed at middle primary, everything would be okay for Leroy.

The Bully
She's big.
She's smart.
She's mean.
She's the bully on the bus.
She picks on me, and I don't like it.
I don't know
how to make her

Part of the problem here lies in the words "I don't know how".  Leroy needs to talk to his parents, his teacher, even his sister.  He cannot fight this battle alone. And what of the bully? Who is this girl and why is she so cruel?  Perhaps the answer lies in The Big Bad book of Fairy Tales.

This book is an important one to share with Middle Grade students.  I picked it up at a charity book sale because Kathryn Apel has another book listed for our CBCA Notables 2018 which I previously really enjoyed - Too many friends.  Kathryn has links to a chapter sample, several sets of excellent teaching ideas, a trailer and review comments on her web site.  If you are looking for some other books on this topic click here.

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