PW called this tale of a 10-year-old who flees three bullying classmates and gets hit by a bus "tightly written. The author proves that bad girls can make for a good story." Ages 8-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wilson (The Suitcase Kid) opens this tightly written tale with a bang: 10-year-old Mandy, after being humiliated by three bullying classmates, dashes into the street and gets hit by a bus (she sprains her arm, but is otherwise fine). Mandy's first-person narrative then settles into a credible, engaging account of how she copes with the ongoing taunting from these three "bad girls" and with the coddling of her overprotective mother. The author compellingly demonstrates the dramatic differences in the physical and emotional development among fifth graders. Things begin to look up when Mandy meets 14-year-old Tanya, a foster child who moves into a neighbor's home. With her spiky orange hair, high heels and cropped tops, Tanya couldn't look more unlike the bespectacled Mandy, whose mother dresses her in "stupid baby clothes" and insists she wear her hair in braids. Despite the differences in their ages and backgrounds--and much to the chagrin of Mandy's mother--the two develop a friendship that enables the heroine to assert her individuality. Even after Tanya must move to a "children's home" (after she, with Mandy in tow, gets arrested for shoplifting), Mandy develops a strength and maturity that enable her to relate better to her mother and to brush off the barbs of the bullies. Shaping convincing characters, dialogue and plot, Wilson proves that bad girls can make for a good story. Ages 9-12. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
There are all types of bad girls. Some are actually mean bullies that tease and torment smaller, vulnerable girls who must face them everyday at school. Others are just lonely and neglected, overcompensating for the tough life they have been dealt. In this story, Mandy is one of the girls taunted by the first kind of bad girl. Even her best friend has turned against her and joined forces with her tormenters. At the bus stop, in the classroom and elsewhere, these girls make fun of almost everything about Mandy. Just when Mandy thinks she can't take it any longer, Tanya moves in. Tanya is a foster child who has had a tough life. She represents the second type of bad girl. In fact, she is completely the opposite of Mandy. Even though Mandy's parents aren't excited about her hanging out with Tanya, Tanya turns out to be Mandy's most faithful friend and defender. This is a great book about an issue that many girls deal with¾teasing. It also deals with the concept of judging others, and is a delightful book with many great lessons. 2001, Delacorte Press, $15.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Sheree Van Vreede
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Although sharing the same title as Cynthia Voigt's Bad Girls (Scholastic, 1996), the similarity ends there. When her friend Melanie teams up with Kim and Sarah, 10-year-old Mandy White becomes the target of their taunts and gets hit by a bus while trying to run away from them. Despite the efforts of Mandy's mother, teacher, and principal, the girls continue to bully, only changing their tactics. Mandy copes better when she becomes friendly with 14-year-old Tanya, who lives in a foster-care home. Although Mandy disapproves of Tanya's shoplifting, the two end up at the police station when Tanya is caught. The author's depictions of the characters and situations ring true. The British expressions give the story a sense of place and do not interfere with its readability. It's unfortunate that the lighthearted cartoon illustrations belie the serious issues raised in the story.-Marilyn Ackerman, Brooklyn Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
The protagonists in this English import by the author of The Lottie Project (1999)and other books about funny, feisty girlsaren't the bad girls of the title. That"honor" is reserved for three featured players who are among the rottenest female bullies readers will likely ever have come across in fact or fiction. The two heroines, however, are terrificby turns funny, heart-warming, and fully deserving of readers' compassion, for each suffers a lot in her own way. Ten-year-old Mandy White, bespectacled and small for her age, is picked on relentlessly and mercilessly by said trio of tormentors whom readers will want to slap silly. To make matters worse, Mandy's adoring mother, a first-time parent in late middle age, babies her daughter almost beyond reason. Then into Mandy's life comes bohemian new neighbor Tanya, an orange-spike-haired free spirit. Tanya is a foster child four years Mandy's senior who dresses in sequined tops, short shorts, and high-heeled sandals. She also dabbles in occasional shoplifting. She accepts Mandy unconditionally and quickly, and the girls become best friends. While this may not be entirely believable, it's made plain that Tanya gets along very well with younger children and apparently prefers their company. The novel also hints at very unhappy events in Tanya's life that help to explain her desperate need for friendship, affection, and a real family life. Sadly, the girls are ultimately parted when Tanya is sent away after a particularly hairy shoplifting escapade. But by that time, the friendship has allowed Mandy to find the strength to learn how to assert herself with her mother, to finally stand up tothebullies, and to acceptanother true friend in a male classmate. Youngsters will have a jolly good time with these bad, no, great girls in a read that's fun though sometimes implausible. (Fiction. 9-12) Author tour
From the Publisher
“Wilson proves that bad girls can make for a good story.”
Read an Excerpt
They were going to get me.
I saw them the moment I turned the comer. They were halfway down the street, waiting near the bus stop. Melanie, Sarah and Kim. Kim, the worst one of all.
I didn't know what to do. I took a step forward, my sandal sticking to the sidewalk.
They were nudging each other. They'd spotted me.
I couldn't see that far, even with my glasses, but I knew Kim would have that great big smile on her face.
I stood still. I looked over my shoulder. Perhaps I could run back to school? I'd hung around for ages already. Maybe they'd locked the playground gates? But perhaps one of the teachers would still be there? I could pretend I had a stomachache or something and then maybe I'd get a ride in their car?
"Look at Mandy! She's going to go running back to school. Baby!" Kim yelled.
She seemed to have her own magic glasses that let her see right inside my head. She didn't wear ordinary glasses, of course. Girls like Kim never wear glasses or braces on their teeth. They never get fat. They never have a silly haircut. They never wear stupid baby clothes.
If I ran back they'd only run after me. So I went on walking, even though my legs were wobbly. I was getting near enough to see them clearly. Kim was smiling, all right. They all were.
I tried to think what to do.
Daddy told me to try teasing her back. But you can't tease girls like Kim. There's nothing to tease her about.
Mom said just ignore them and then they'll get tired of teasing.
They hadn't got tired yet.
I was getting nearer and nearer. My sandals were still sticking. I was sticking too. My dress stuck to my back. My forehead was wet under my bangs.
But I tried very hard to look cool. I tried to stare straight past them. Arthur King was waiting at the bus stop. I stared at him instead. He was reading a book. He is always reading books.
I like reading too. It was a shame Arthur King was a boy And a bit weird. Otherwise we might have been friends.
I didn't have any real friends now. I used to have Melanie, but then she got friendly with Sarah. Then Kim decided she'd have them in her gang.
Melanie always said she hated Kim. But now was her best friend. If Kim wants you as a friend then that's it. You don't argue with her. She can be so scary.
She was right in front of me now. I couldn't stare past her anymore. I had to look at her. Her bright black eyes and her glossy hair and her big mouth smiling, showing all her white
I could even see her when I shut my eyes. It was as if she'd stepped through my glasses, straight into my head. Smiling and smiling.
"She's got her eyes shut. Hey, let's bump into her," said Kim.
I opened my eyes up quick.
"She's crazy," said Sarah.
"She's playing one of her pretend games," said Melanie.
They all cracked up laughing.
I couldn't stand it that Melanie had told them all our private games. My eyes started stinging. I blinked hard. I knew I mustn't cry no matter what.
Ignore them, ignore them, ignore them ...
"She's trying to ignore us!" said Kim triumphantly. "Did Momsie-Womsie tell you to ignore us mean nasty girlies, then?"
There was no point trying to ignore her anymore. I couldn't, anyway. She'd stepped straight in front of me. She had Melanie on one side, Sarah on the other. I was surrounded.
I swallowed. Kim went on smiling.
"Where is Mommy, anyway?" she said. "Not like Mommy to let little Mandy sneak home all by herself. We were looking out for her, weren't we, Mel, weren't we, Sarah?"
They always nudged each other and whispered and giggled when my mom went past. They nudged and whispered and giggled even more when Mom and I were together. One terrible time Momtook hold of my hand and they all saw before I could snatch it away. They went on about itfor weeks. Kim made up tales of baby harnesses and strollers and baby bottles. And a pacifier for the pitiful.
They were nudging and whispering and giggling now. I didn't answer Kim. I tried to dodge around her but she dodged too, so she was standing in front of me. Right up close. Bigger than me.
"Hey, I'm talking to you! You deaf or something? Had I better shout?" said Kim. She bent so close her silky black hair brushed my cheek. "Where's Mommy?" she bellowed into my ear.
From the Hardcover edition.