________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 14 . . . . March 17, 2006


Maddie Stands Tall. (First Novels, No. 54).

Louise Leblanc. Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay. Translated by Sarah Cummins.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2005.
61 pp., pbk. & cl., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 0-88780-682-1 (pbk.), ISBN 0-88780-683-X (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Bullying - Juvenile fiction.
Schools - Juvenile fiction.
Brothers and sisters - Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Lisa O'Hara.

***½ / 4

In another story starring Maddie, Louise Leblanc deals with the issue of bullying in schools. Maddie's little brother, Julian, who is a genius who excels at school, suddenly doesn't want to attend. He claims have lost his glasses so that he won't have to go, and, when Maddie and Alexander find them hidden in his secret box, they realize that something is secretly wrong. Julian won't confess, however, until he has a nightmare and crawls into Maddie’s bed. The next morning, they share the secret with Alexander:

I told Alexander in a quavering voice, "They threatened to…"

It was too terrifying. I could hardly believe it even now.

"… to cut out my tongue if I told anyone," Julian finished for me, clapping his hands over his mouth.

Alexander was revolted.

"We can't let them get away with it! There's got to be a way… Gran! She'll know"

"Remember? She's away on a trip."

Alexander slumped in his seat. Julian gnawed at his fingernails. They both looked at me.

     Maddie comes up with a plan involving her friends’ getting even with the bullies, an idea which results in a school-yard brawl. All the parents are called into the principal’s office, and the entire school is eventually pulled into the discussion, looking for ways to end the bullying.

     Leblanc does a good job of telling the story of bullying from the victim's side and even gives an idea of why bullying might occur. The ideas in the story will make sense to children and show that bullying has negative effects on more people than just the victim and the bullies. Told in simple language with short paragraphs and chapters, the book is well written for this age level. Marie-Louise Gay's pictures illustrate the feelings and emotions of the characters, with Julian portrayed as both a toad and a ghost to show how he feels when he is being bullied and when nobody notices the bullying.

Highly Recommended.

Lisa O'Hara is a librarian and mother of three in Winnipeg, MB.

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