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4.5 6
by Patricia Polacco

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Patricia Polacco takes on cliques and online bullying

Lyla finds a great friend in Jamie on her first day of school, but when Lyla makes the cheerleading squad and a clique of popular girls invites her to join them, Jamie is left behind. Lyla knows bullying when she sees it, though, and when she sees the girls viciously teasing classmates on Facebook, including


Patricia Polacco takes on cliques and online bullying

Lyla finds a great friend in Jamie on her first day of school, but when Lyla makes the cheerleading squad and a clique of popular girls invites her to join them, Jamie is left behind. Lyla knows bullying when she sees it, though, and when she sees the girls viciously teasing classmates on Facebook, including Jamie, she is smart enough to get out. But no one dumps these girls, and now they're out for revenge.

Patricia Polacco has taken up the cause against bullies ever since Thank You, Mr. Falker, and her passion shines through in this powerful story of a girl who stands up for a friend.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Polacco’s middle-school variation on Mean Girls is an overwrought but compelling literary hybrid: it reads like a novella with pictures. Sixth-grader Lyla and her brother, Jack, are new kids at a Bay Area school with a cutthroat social scene. Lyla is accepted into the popular girls’ clique, but grapples with the fact that the very same kids are bullying Jack and a boy named Jamie on Facebook, as well as in the hallways and lunchroom. That would be plenty to digest, but Polacco raises the stakes to a lurid level with a stolen achievement test and a tragic back story for the clique’s leader, turning potentially empathetic readers into rubberneckers. While the story’s emphasis on cyber-bullying is important and timely, Polacco’s message is delivered with a heavy hand. Visually, though, it’s striking. As always, Polacco (The Art of Miss Chew) is an exuberantly expansive stylist, and a master of emotional immediacy: her pencil and marker spreads explode with color and expressiveness. Few artists are better equipped to capture the hothouse that is early adolescent school life, complete with its all-important fashion parade. Ages 7–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
“Powerful . . . dramatizes how online abuse has intensified the cruelty of bullying. . . . Dramatic line-and-watercolor artwork. . . . Kids will recognize the charged scenarios of anger and hurt and the seething contemporary middle-school social scene. Great for group discussion.” — Booklist

"The artwork realistically portrays—through their body language and wonderfully expressive hands—what these youngsters are feeling. Polacco captures the insidiousness of cyberbullying. . . . Will spark intense and much-needed discussions." — School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
Life is good for sixth grader Lyla Dean. Her family recently moved to a house with a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge and she makes a new friend during her first day at her new school. Jamie and Lyla become close friends but neither belongs to one of the social groups that are clearly defined in the school cafeteria. Jamie helps Lyla convince her family to permit her to have a cell phone and computer; then he helps her set up a Facebook page. At times, Lyla looks longingly at the popular girls table, but she is happy as she excels in academics and even earns a spot in the cheerleading squad. Suddenly Gage, Kenyon, and Maeve, the most popular girls, bring her into their group. At first she is happy; then they begin making fun of Jamie and cause her to exclude him. However, she pulls away from them when they try to include her in "scum dumping," posting hurtful comments on Facebook pages. When Lyla stands up to them and leaves them to be with Jamie, they turn against her with dreadful consequences. Polacco's pastel illustrations clearly depict middle school life as her story sheds light on the pervasive bullying. The story ends with a question to promote critical thinking and discussion among young readers. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Lyla begins sixth grade at a new school in the San Francisco Bay area and makes friends with Jamie, a short, overweight boy with a big smile. She gets good grades, becomes a cheerleader, and attracts the attention of a clique of popular girls. For a while she successfully balances her friendship with Jamie and her time with Gage, Kenyon, and Maeve-until she sees them writing hurtful things on the Facebook walls of their classmates. When she breaks with the clique, Gage warns her that no one dumps them. Their revenge comes in February, when Lyla is accused of stealing one of the state tests. Horrible messages ("EVERYBODY HATES YOU," "OMG WHAT A CHEAT," and "DROP DEAD" among them) appear on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and her cell phone. Helpless to clear her name, she turns to Jamie, whose computer skills trace the messages back to Gage, who stole the missing test. Gage must take responsibility to avoid suspension, but Lyla and Jamie wonder how much will change. Will they hope for the best or transfer to another school? Rendered in pencils and markers, the artwork realistically portrays-through their body language and wonderfully expressive hands-what these youngsters are feeling. Polacco captures the insidiousness of cyberbullying and, in a letter to her readers, warns again of its dangers. Paired with the author's Thank You, Mr. Falker (Philomel, 1998), this picture book will spark intense and much-needed discussions.—Mary Jean Smith, formerly at Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
Kirkus Reviews
Despite good intentions, Polacco's current take on this particular hot topic falls short. First and foremost, it seems unlikely that the message will ever reach its intended audience. Extensive text and challenging vocabulary make it clear that although the story is told in Polacco's typical picture-book format, it's really aimed at older children. Lyla and her friends (and enemies) appear to be in middle school, but the simplistic plot won't keep kids that age engaged. New at school, Lyla first finds a good friend in fellow newcomer Jamie. When her cheerleading talents are revealed, Lyla is adopted by the in crowd. Savvy readers won't be surprised when she struggles to balance her friendships or by her eventual decision to stand up for Jamie. That decision leads to an accusation of cheating and an all-out campaign of cyberbullying. While Polacco gets quite a few things just right--the three mean girls' body language perfectly expresses their snotty attitude, and Lyla's pleasure in being part of the popular group is entirely believable--overall, the plot is predictable. Ending with a question for readers emphasizes the bibliotherapeutic goal and further weakens the potential impact. Unlike Polacco's Thank You, Mr. Falker (1998)--an affecting, personal look at the pain cruel kids can inflict on those they perceive as different--this contemporary effort won't move readers to better understand themselves or others. (Picture book. 8-12)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.50(d)
630L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Patricia Polacco is the prolific author and illustrator of over fifty picture books, and has received over 75 awards and honors for her work. She is also an energetic and enthusiastic public speaker--she visits over 100 classrooms every year. She lives in Union City, Michigan.

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Bully 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ive read manny of her books she has many themes that she teaches but one that really standed out to me was dont judge a book bye its cover. I hope u wont
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is Amazing! It teaches you about bullying ( in genaral,or/and online). And how to stand up to bullies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book at my local library and had to have it! If you are looking for an age appropriate book about bullying-in person and through social media-this is it. I teach math and I took the time to read this to my classes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is gr8!!! I read it 2 day and really loved it. It really shows u how awful bullying is. Patricia Polacco wows me in this must read book. ;);););););););););););)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I live Michgan and Patrica is my neighbor I read her book and I loved and so did my children
Anonymous More than 1 year ago