________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 18. . . .January 20, 2017


Bullies Rule. (Orca Currents).

Monique Polak.
Victoria, BC: Orca, February, 2017.
125 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 ( pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1438-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1439-4 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1440-0 (epub).

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Elaine Fuhr.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



I donít mean to be mean.

But I canít resist an opportunity.

Like this morning, during recess, I am hanging in the schoolyard with my buds, and Nelson Wong walks by. His eyes are glued to the asphalt. Guys like me make guys like Nelson nervous.

Let me be clear. I donít have anything against Nelson. Itís not his fault heís a math genius or that heís skinnier than a rake. Today he happens to be wearing these baggy gray trackpants. They are practically falling off his bony butt.

Those trackpants are my opportunity.

I grin when I see Nelson pull up his pants. Then I turn to Trevor and Luke and say, ďWatch this, guys!Ē

Trevor snorts in anticipation. Most kids laugh. Trevor snorts. Luke, who believes that nothing happens until it gets posted on YouTube, whips his cell phone out of his back pocket.

I jog over to where Nelson is huddled with a group of math geniuses. They are probably discussing ratios and right angles, so Nelson doesnít realize I am behind him.

Thatís when I pants him.

It doesnít take much effort. I just grab the elasticized band at the top of his trackpants and give a tug. Two seconds later, Nelsonís knobby knees are knocking together and his trackpants are around his ankles.


Daniel Abel doesnít think heís a bully. He just likes to joke around. But why does he revel in the fact that he makes kids like Nelson so uncomfortable? Daniel is just having fun. And after the pantsing incident with Nelson, the math nerd according to Daniel, he does not get into trouble at all, like he expects. He becomes a frontline representative for the school. Now itís his turn to be uncomfortable because he must greet guests to the open house with the worst bully in the school, Jeff Kover. What is going on? Rewards for bullying, and now, three strangers with briefcases arrive with the pretense of being researchers from the University of Montreal working on confidential research.

     But, bullies donít always change their ways, and Daniel finds himself involved in a scheme devised by Jeff that truly turns bad. It is up to Daniel to save Jeffís life.

     So many young people donít see themselves as bullies, but their jokes hurt others. It is good to read a novel about such kids and see a transformation when responsibility is added to their lives, a practice I have always believed in and used in my own teaching career. Monique Polak has developed very real and modern characters who like to joke, know their jokes hurt others but are supported by their peers. Peer support makes it difficult for these youth to back away from this type of behavior. I believe that many young readers will see themselves in Polakís characters, especially Daniel, who is at first proud of his place in school society but begins to feel a hint of shame and then compassion for the bullied. As an author of many youth novels, Polak understands the lives of teens. Hopefully Bullies Rule will become a fixture in every school library and classroom.

Highly Recommended.

Elaine Fuhr is a retired elementary and middle school teacher.

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

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