________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 9 . . . . December 22, 2006


How to Tame a Bully. 

Nancy Wilcox Richards. Illustrated by Drazen Kozjan.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2006.
75 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 0-439-94783-9.

Subject Headings:
Bullying-Juvenile fiction.
Schools-Juvenile fiction.
Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.
Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4 


This year I’m going into Grade Three and I know, just know, it’s going to be my best year ever.

First of all, I’ve got Ms MacArthur. She’s the teacher everyone wants. No homework on the weekends, free time every Friday afternoon and she has a jellybean machine right in the classroom. Sometimes if you do your homework you get money for the machine.

Life was looking pretty good for third grader, Lauren Campbell - good that is until she sat next to Bethany Walters. Lauren’s eyes were glued to the seat near the computers, and this is why she didn’t see Bethany, the bully of Bayfield Elementary School, sitting beside the seat she wanted. A sudden gloom comes over Lauren when she realizes what she did. Her rosy expectations for third grade just diminish. The only one who seems happy with this situation is their teacher, Ms MacArthur who hopes Lauren and Bethany will become friends during the year.  

internal art

     Bethany shows Lauren knuckle sandwiches, calls Lauren “Shrimp”, and takes Lauren’s double fudge chocolately recess snacks for weeks on end. These actions, plus Bethany’s large size and the gossip and rumors that surround her, make Lauren fear for her safety. Luckily, Lauren’s best friend, Claire, helps her through each day. Lauren can safely vent her emotions to Claire, and Claire helps sidetrack Lauren from her Bethany fears. Milkshakes are one diversion Claire uses for this purpose.
     Bethany plays several mean tricks on Lauren. Bethany gets Lauren in trouble in the bathroom, and she spills red paint on Lauren before class pictures. After all this, Lauren and Bethany are actually paired to work on a class project. Lauren does learn to assert herself. She uses her voice and a little trick encompassing a celery surprise. Will this ruin their project; a project that has to be presented “creatively” to the class?

     How to Tame a Bully has black and white illustrations on every second or third page. They focus on Lauren and Bethany, with a few illustrations of supporting characters intermixed. In a couple of the illustrations, Lauren can be seen with her mom or with Claire. The majority of the pictures are set on the school grounds or in the classroom. The characters have big, childlike eyes, and wear trendy clothes and accessories.  

     Bullying happens far too often in schools today. This story is about bullying in the younger grades and bullying by a female. How to Tame a Bully is a valuable book to add to a collection or for a teacher to read aloud to the class.  


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB. 

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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