Being the new kid in town can be challenging in many ways: Especially when you’re a little different. Let’s face it, kids can be, well . . . not so nice. In this book for young readers, Josephine’s character serves as a beautiful example for both kids and adults, and reminds us that no one should ever Judge a book by its cover.
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Bully Boy follows a teen boy who has been bullied and abused for years, now he decideds to fight back and get retribution for those that caused harm directly or indirectly. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
My idea for Bully Boy basically came from watching the constant real-life stories of physical and verbal abuse still plaguing our school systems. This abuse is being given the reason for a lot of kids acting out emotionally and sometimes tragically through shootings and suicides. And I’m asking myself why is this still happening in 2022? This was going on when we were kids and seems to continue from generation to generation without end, mostly because the adults of each generation can’t seem to control the problem, which is very controllable. It is a problem, admittedly a complex one, that can be resolved. What happens a lot is that the adults blame the kids and the kids blame the adults. Many schools today are doing a better job today addressing the problem, but others are not. So, thinking of all this, I decided to write a story about it.
Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into your character’s life?
I took a look back at my own school years, ages ago, when bullying was part of growing up and only addressed if something very serious happened. I wasn’t a victim as much as Henry Wilton was, but I remembered being a little bullied as a kid and seeing it as well and teachers not doing that much to stop it. But I also remember doing a little bullying, too. I think that’s normal growing up–getting bullied, doing some bullying. We all can take a little bullying. But it’s the constant, consistent harassment and belittling of one person or a group of people, daily, weekly, that leads to the emotional damage. And I find it hard to believe teachers and administrators don’t see some of that. I believe that after researching the subject and writing it for a while, my own anger about this ongoing problem worked its way into the writing.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Several important themes easily relate to this story. Power and control is certainly one of them. Who has the power and who doesn’t and how those dynamics work themselves throughout the school. We all know how that works, don’t we, and we never forget it and take it into adulthood. The themes of injustice and feigned ignorance are important in this story, as Henry tries desperately to bring some order to his life against people trying to avoid the real problem. The theme of how anger and rage can tear a kid apart. The theme of life and death is played out in the book, about how tenuous and uncertain both can be in the teenage mind. But, most important, accountability and responsibility. Who’s responsible and accountable for the abuse problems in a school system? Not just in a school, but the workplace, the home, and anywhere else.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Right now I’m in the planning stages of a novel, so nothing will be available for a while.
Author Links: GoodReads
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From the very first pages of this thought-provoking young-adult novel author Tom Wade paints a vivid picture of a teenage boy cowed and made miserable by groups of bullies who have victimized him for years. From the first day of the school year, 15-year-old Henry struggles against a system that is determined to keep him down. He gathers the courage to stand up to his oppressors and find retribution, but at a high price to himself. In the end he must make the pivotal decision about his own future — take the ultimate peace that his friends chose or continue to fight.
Henry might be terrorized by bullies, but he has had enough. He begins to stand up to the kids who are violent and abusive as well as to the apathetic adults who are shockingly willing to turn a blind eye. These scenes are heart wrenching but feel authentic. He is a smart kid, and he knows exactly how to push everyone’s buttons, and I enjoyed how sharp his character is. Gradually, readers see Henry change from one of the “meeks” to the biggest bully of them all. He provokes fights to prove his point and he browbeats his teachers into taking action. His character evolution is compelling and makes for an engaging read.
Throughout this enthralling coming of age tale is a simmering undercurrent of menace that will have readers on the edge of their seat. Has the system that failed him created a monster? And, if so, just how big a monster? On more than one occasion, Henry’s musings imply that he has been pushed too far and, just like his nervous teachers, readers wonder if he is going to produce the gun he knows is kept in his father’s desk. The dialogue is another real strength of this book and is used to great effect to both tell the story and build character.
Bully Boy by Tom Wade is an eye opening read that explores contemporary issues in schools with a captivating main character. If you enjoy gripping teen fiction novels that have something important to say, then this is a book you must pickup.
Pages: 294 | ASIN: B0B1NTV8Z3
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Cool Kids follows a young boy who becomes a bully to earn a spot on the football team, but when terrible things happen to him he wonders if it’s worth it. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
My father was my inspiration. He was a great storyteller. It was a time when television was first becoming popular; however, not everyone could afford one. Storytelling still attracted the children on the block and they could not wait to hear the stories about a character he created, Ruffy Butchbang. Ruffy Butchbang was a bully who always got in to trouble. It was the only way he could feel important. In every story my dad told, there was a lesson learned. Each story was so exciting because my dad added his special sound effects. This character, Ruffy Butchbang was embedded in my memory. I too told stories about Ruffy to my children and grandchildren. My sons Ted and Eric knew my father but my grandchildren never did. However, they knew who created Ruffy Butchbang, Grandpa Harry. Now that bullying is a subject in today’s society, it seems perfect to bring Ruffy Buthbang back into the spotlight, and so I created Cool Kids.
How can your book help children, parents and teachers with bullying?
I think Cool Kids offers families and educators a great teaching opportunity. It offers them the perfect opportunity to help a children understand their emotions and social dynamics involved in bullying. It open the door for many conversations, whether your child is bullied or bullying. It allows for different discussions and outcomes and steps to take in various situations. Cool Kids shows kids that changing your behavior to become a bully in order to fit in isn’t being cool. Be true to yourself. It shows that there is a power in kindness and its “cool” to be kind. Discussions about this subject is a great way for families to have an open dialogue with their children.
The art in this book was fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Amelina Jones?
After I wrote my story, I needed an illustrator. Mascot Books sent me the sample works of various illustrators. I chose the one who best fit my story. The drawings of Amelina Jones were perfect. She sent me drawings for each character for approval, even my beagle and matched the characters to the script. We made changes because I did not realize things could be inferred and not need to be seen. We communicated with each other through Mascot Books. When all was said and done, I almost did not see a drastic error. Amelina Jones was from the United Kingdom. My story involved football and she drew a soccer ball. Well, that had to be changed to an American football and it was just in time! She also added her personal touches and I loved it. I must say, I was lucky to work with such a talented illustrator.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have thought about a second book about RUFFY BUTCHBANG and his adventures, still involving the same characters. In each story, there needs to be a lesson learned. I am thinking about the twists and turns that will take place so teachers and families can have continued dialogue and children will love it. I am a former school teacher so I know that communication between adults and children is so important. The paper and pencil is right by my bedside ready for creative ideas. It will ,come not sure of exact dates.
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Tags: Arlene Freeman, author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, bullying, childrens books, Cool Kids, ebook, education, elementary, goodreads, kids books, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, parent, read, reader, reading, story, teacher, writer, writing
Michael is excited to start the year at his new school. He is going into 4th grade with two of his best friends. Together they all dream of playing football at this new school like they did last year. Michael makes several new friends in the first few weeks of school, and they all get along great. One day, Michael sees some boys playing football, and they will not let him join in. He is not one of the ‘cool kids.’ Disappointed, Michael decides to find a way to get into the cool kid’s group. Unfortunately, he learns that he must be mean and become a bully to be part of this group. Michael starts seeing himself as a monster and questions if being cool is worth it.
Cool Kids by Arlene Freeman takes a serious topic of bullying and presents it in a way that older elementary grade kids can understand and relate to. As a parent, I have witnessed bullying from this age group multiple times, and I think addressing it at this age level is vital for teaching just how harmful it can be to others. Kids will be able to relate to Michael and his desire to fit in and join others that are doing the activities he wants to do. I am impressed with how the author shows readers the ugly side of bullying. Being a bully makes you feel ugly inside, even when you look like the cool kid on the outside.
The artwork by Amelina Jones brings the story to life with detailed emotions for the characters and a style that fits between whimsy watercolors and graphic novel imagery. Children will enjoy the bright colors and realistic representations of a day in school. For younger kids who can’t read all the words yet, the images do a fantastic job of telling the story independently.
The theme of friendship and acceptance is just as strong as bullying in this children’s book. Michael is not the only kid to learn the real meaning of ‘cool kids,’ and seeing that people can change is helpful for this age group. It is a good reminder that sometimes we all make bad choices and that we can fix things by apologizing and making good choices after.
Cool Kids is a feel-good children’s book for elementary-level kids. Dealing with topics that kids struggle with at this age and presented in an approachable and relevant manner, this makes an excellent book for classrooms and caregivers to discuss the issues of bullying, kindness, and friendship.
Pages: 38 | ASIN : B09L5LKSST
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Lilbeebye is a young girl with a secret. She appears normal on the outside, but in reality, she has secret powers. She can change into a superhero bee that stings honey love into the hearts of those who are bullies. Lilbeebye believes that everyone can be good and kind they just sometimes need some encouragement. When her friend Sally becomes the victim of a bully Lilbeebye rushes into action to sting the bullies and restore peace to the school playground. Later that day her older sister gets into a fight with her friends and Lilbeebye must spring into action again and sting them all to restore the love and goodness inside them.
Lilbeebye Stings Bully by author Theresa Shields is written on a level for older elementary-level students. The first half of the book is a fun story about Lilbeebye’s superpowers and how she helps people learn to be kind and good. There are colorful and engaging illustrations that introduce the topic of bullying to children. This half of this imaginative story would be great for early elementary students to help open discussions of bullying as well.
The second half of this book is much more serious and better suited for older children, eight to twelve-year-olds. The second half of the informative book is not illustrated and brings up topics such as cyberbullying, emotional abuse, and even suicide. There is good information on social media bullying, posting pictures and texts that are embarrassing or hurtful. Shields explains how these things are not harmless teasing and how hurtful they can be to people.
While this complex children’s book uses the church as a way to present ideas of community and sharing of information it is not overly religious and could be used by secular groups to start conversations on bullying.
Lilbeebye Stings Bully is a thought-provoking children’s book. Educators and parents will find this to be a useful book for opening up discussions on bullying to children in elementary school and provide a chance to discuss deeper topics of bullying with older elementary students especially those getting ready to enter middle school.
Pages: 29 | ASIN : B085PW2YX5
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Malik is smart. He loves school, and he runs–he has to. He is teased by kids just like him for loving learning. Malik knows this is unfair, and he is tired of living this way. He isn’t alone. His friend, Keisha, knows how he feels. She and Malik have been there for each other through many difficult days. Matt is their friend, too. Not unlike Malik and Keisha, Matt’s days are spent running from trouble in his own way. One afternoon, while the three friends are gathered at Keisha’s house, the doorbell rings and things change in a way none of them could have guessed.
My Black Life Matters, by Michael A. Brown, is the story of young Malik and his friends, three African American elementary students who explain how they deal with the abuse and bullying endured on a daily basis. Malik, Keisha, and Matt live with mistreatment on many levels, the most painful of which comes from their own peers and family members. Readers of all ages will find Malik’s story relatable, and teachers and parents will recognize many children in Keisha and Matt. They represent a large part of the African American population all of whom deserve to have their voices heard.
Author Michael A. Brown brings to light the incredibly challenging lives of children across the country. In making sure that their lives matter, he gives them voices through his vibrant and engaging characters. Brown’s book is a must-have for school counselors. Brown deals with triggering content in a tasteful way that parents and counselors can easily incorporate into important personal discussions. Kudos to Brown for giving readers a story grounded in real-life with a positive and uplifting message.
Pages: 44 | ISBN: 1735604194
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Her Tale was Told in Whispers by Mutch Katsonga is a haunting coming-of-age story about a young man who becomes fixated on a girl named Marcy who he witnesses being bullied at Knoxridge High School when they are teenagers. He does not join in bullying Marcy, but he doesn’t stand up against the bullies either. Then one day Marcy disappears, and when she reappears briefly, he feels regret for not defending her against the bullies. A short time later, he leaves Knoxridge High after a disturbing incident, and it is many years before he sees Marcy again. When Marcy vanishes from his life yet again, he is determined to find her. But will learning the truth of what really happened all those years ago change everything?
This was an intriguing story that kept my interest from the beginning all the way through to the end. As I read the book, I had many questions that I wanted to find the answers for, which kept me turning the pages. I liked the consistent element of mystery and uncertainty in the story. All the threads started to come together at the end, with the reader learning the true significance of many of the previous events. I liked that there was a surprise twist at the end which I did not expect. This book is a short novella that can be read in a few hours.
While I enjoyed this story, I felt that the flow of the story felt a bit disjointed, going from the time when Marcy was fourteen being bullied in high school, then recalling events from her earlier childhood, and then jumping to when Marcy is twenty-one years old. Also, I wanted more details around who was the narrator, where the story was taking place, and in what time period.
With those minor distractions aside, Her Tale was Told in Whispers is a riveting mystery novel that follows the lives of some very intriguing characters. With a rich atmosphere and easy storytelling, I think this would be a perfect book for fans of young adult literature.
Pages: 103 | ASIN: B085FW88BT
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