Reluctant Readers: “The Bully Book”

The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale  bully book

Up until 6th grade, Eric has always been a sort of regular kid. He has a crush on his best girl/friend, Melody. Since fourth grade when they connected over a class project, Eric has been hanging out with Donovan, an overweight guy with braces.

But something strange happens on the first day of grade six. Donovan comes into the class looking like a new person. He’s lost about 25 pounds, has no braces and his hair is cut short. And, he pretends not to know Eric.

Instead, Donovan is hanging with Jason Crazinski and Adrian Noble, who have suddenly decided to bully Eric and to get the rest of the class to do so as well. With their teacher always absent on Mondays, they make up vocabulary sentences with Eric’s name in them–all derogatory–and the whole class joins in. The sub doesn’t notice.

Things get crude and gross with incidents in the boys’ restroom at the urinal. And worse.

What happened over the summer that led to this change? The bullies got ahold of “The Bully Book,” a secret document that has been passed down through the years, a manual for selecting a “Grunt” and then ruining his life.

Grunts don’t fight back; they are easy targets. And while Eric never tells any adults what is happening to him, he does try to figure out what the Bully Book is, who has it, and how he can stop being the Grunt.
High school housekeeping: I wanted to a read a suspenseful book for students who are working on their reading skills. The Bully Book is a good choice. The chapters alternate between text from the Bully Book and passages from Eric’s journal. The Bully Book explains how and why the bullies torment the Grunt. And then the  reader sees specifically how the plans from the Bully Book affect Eric. He becomes a loner, someone who is mentally, emotionally, and physically abused. The Bully Book book has a 620 Lexile level, so it’s about 5th-grade reading level. But the topic of selecting a classmate for everyone to pick on and seeing how that person falls apart is one that resonates with older readers. I’d recommend The Bully Book to students who are working on their reading skills.

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About Victoria Waddle

I'm a high school librarian, formerly an English teacher. I love to read and my mission is to connect people with the right books. To that end, I read widely--from the hi-lo for reluctant high school readers to the literary adult novel for the bibliophile.
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