Bystander

( 65 )

Overview

Eric is the new kid in seventh grade. Griffin wants to be his friend. When you’re new in town, it’s hard to know who to hang out with—and who to avoid. Griffin seems cool, confident, and popular.

     But something isn’t right about Griffin. He always seems to be in the middle of bad things. And if Griffin doesn't like you, you’d better watch your back. There might be a target on it.

     As Eric gets drawn deeper into Griffin’s dark world, he begins to see the truth about ...

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Overview

Eric is the new kid in seventh grade. Griffin wants to be his friend. When you’re new in town, it’s hard to know who to hang out with—and who to avoid. Griffin seems cool, confident, and popular.

     But something isn’t right about Griffin. He always seems to be in the middle of bad things. And if Griffin doesn't like you, you’d better watch your back. There might be a target on it.

     As Eric gets drawn deeper into Griffin’s dark world, he begins to see the truth about Griffin: He’s a liar, a bully, a thief. Eric wants to break away, do the right thing. But in one shocking moment, he goes from being a bystander . . . to the bully’s next victim.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
It is not so easy moving from the heartlands to Long Island with a broken family, harder still being the new seventh-grader in middle school. Wanting only to make friends, Eric Hayes finds himself smack in the middle of games being played by the resident bully, Griffin, and his current target, David Hallenback. Eric opts for the role of neutral bystander until Griffin's gang ups the pressure to unexpected levels. The entire seventh grade seems to be going through some kind of escalating nightmare: thefts, beatings, Web page slanders, possible intimations of Columbine-style revenge. When Eric attempts to move from bystander to mediator, he becomes the victim. Where will it stop? Can the terror be stopped? Author of the well received Six Innings, Preller breaks away from his usual sports-oriented stories to address the moral issues of adolescent victimization. This is a good "boy read," and should lead to vigorous class discussions. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
Publishers Weekly
The question at the heart of this story turns on what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the appalling silence of the good people.” Is it just as bad to see someone get mistreated and not act as it is to be the bully? The villain is Griffin Connelly, a smooth operator with a megawatt smile and a dark heart, who regularly receives the back of his father's hand and passes along the abuse to any “sick gazelles” he finds at Bellport Central Middle School. When new student Eric refuses to play lapdog, he becomes the target. The strength of Preller's (Along Came Spider) narrative lies in how well he orchestrates Eric's response—he knows there is no easy answer and that going to adults is not always the best thing to do. As he wrestles with his conscience, Eric is befriended by Mary, a classmate making her own stand against malicious teasing. Plenty of kids will see themselves in these pages, making for painful, if important, reading. The resolution, though realistic, may leave some dissatisfied, as the bully moves on but never gets the comeuppance he so richly deserves. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)
VOYA - Elsworth Rockefeller
When Eric moved from Ohio to Long Island, he expected there to be challenges, but he did not anticipate being befriended by the local bully, charismatic and troubled Griffin. As the boys' relationship grows, Eric is unsettled by Griffin's actions, which include stealing from elderly people, physically abusing classmates, and emotionally tormenting peers. Eric decides to stand up to Griffin through his actions, but quickly becomes a target. He must access all support available—through friends, teachers, and within himself—to do the right thing. Eric's struggles are portrayed in a believable, accessible way that is sure to engage readers on both sides of the bullying experience. Heavy foreshadowing lets teens know what to expect as they move through the text, and the story stays focused on Eric and Griffin, which will be appreciated by readers looking for a straightforward narrative. Secondary characters are cast vaguely, which is fine for this text, and details of Eric's father, who left the family when his schizophrenia became too much to handle, are appropriate and feel realistic. The inclusion of Mary, a strong ally for Eric, balances the text and offers a dynamic female presence. Although didactic, many teens will relate to this story and find strength in Eric's experiences. A fitting conclusion—that might leave some teens disappointed—lacks drama but rings true. An easy pick for middle school classroom and school libraries, this book is a worthy addition to collections focused on bullying and larger public libraries, especially those with an active younger teen population. Reviewer: Elsworth Rockefeller
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Eric Hayes has moved from Ohio to Long Island, NY, with his mother and younger brother. His schizophrenic father left long ago. Eric soon meets Griffin Connelly, a handsome kid with natural leadership, lots of charisma, and a real mean streak. While Griffin is the perfect bully, David Hallenback is the perfect victim: beaten down and willing to do anything to get Griffin's approval. At first, Eric is a bystander, not participating in the bullying but not doing anything to stop it. However, several events move him out of this passive role: Griffin steals from him and reveals Eric's confidences about his father; adults at school address bullying; and Mary, a girl he likes, takes a stand against it. Eric realizes that his silence makes him complicit and speaks out, only to become Griffin's next victim. Preller has perfectly nailed the middle school milieu, and his characters are well developed with authentic voices. The novel has a parablelike quality, steeped in a moral lesson, yet not ploddingly didactic. The action moves quickly, keeping readers engaged. The ending is realistic: there's no strong resolution, no punishment or forgiveness. Focusing on the large majority of young people who stand by mutely and therefore complicitly, this must-read book is a great discussion starter that pairs well with a Holocaust unit.—Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Kirkus Reviews
Bullying is a topic that never lacks for interest, and here Preller concentrates on the kids who try to ignore or accommodate a bully to keep themselves safe. Victim David's pain is evident from the first moment newcomer Eric sees him, but he tries not to acknowledge the reality before him. His mother is trying for a fresh start in this Long Island community, as his father has succumbed to schizophrenia and left her and their two boys on their own. Griffin, the bullying instigator, has charisma of sorts; he is a leader and yet suffers under his father's bullying and aggression. For Eric to do the right thing is neither easy nor what he first wants to do, and the way he finds support among his classmates is shown in logical and believable small steps. Eminently discussable as a middle-school read-aloud, the narrative offers minimal subplots to detract from the theme. The role of girls is downplayed, except for classmate Mary, who is essential to the resolution, enhancing appeal across gender lines. (Fiction. 11-14)
From the Publisher
Praise for Bystander:

“Preller has perfectly nailed the middle school milieu, and his characters are well developed with authentic voices. The novel has a parablelike quality, steeped in a moral lesson, yet not ploddingly didactic. The action moves quickly, keeping readers engaged. The ending is realistic: there’s no strong resolution, no punishment or forgiveness. Focusing on the large majority of young people who stand by mutely and therefore complicitly, this must-read book is a great discussion starter that pairs well with a Holocaust unit.” —School Library Journal, Starred Review

“Bullying is a topic that never lacks for interest, and here Preller concentrates on the kids who try to ignore or accommodate a bully to keep themselves safe. For Eric to do the right thing is neither easy nor what he first wants to do, and the way he finds support among his classmates is shown in logical and believable small steps. Eminently discussable as a middle-school read-aloud, [with] appeal across gender lines.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Preller displays a keen awareness of the complicated and often-conflicting instincts to fit in, find friends, and do the right thing. Although there are no pat answers, the message (that a bystander is hardly better than an instigator) is clear, and Preller’s well-shaped characters, strong writing, and realistic treatment of middle-school life deliver it cleanly.”—Booklist

“Plenty of kids will see themselves in these pages, making for painful, if important, reading.”—Publishers Weekly

“An easy pick for middle school classroom and school libraries, this book is a worthy addition to collections focused on bullying and larger public libraries, especially those with an active younger teen population.”—VOYAPraise for James Preller and Six Innings:

“If Judy Blume could write a book about Little League, about its players' deepest fears and secret dreams, it might come out something like this.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Dishing up a rare example of a character-driven tale that is also suspenseful and exciting, [Preller]chronicles a magnificent championship game between two Little League teams that is as much about the players as the plays.”—Booklist, starred review

"Following the play-by-play builds suspense and brings the reader right into the action and the special world of baseball and the people who love it."—Kirkus Reviews

"A tale of baseball, friendship, growth, and coming to terms with hardships, this fast read will grasp any reader who enjoys sports." —School Library Journal

"This is a book whose emotional pull creeps up on you, pitch by pitch….Like the boys on the field and in the press box, readers will feel this is a game to remember."—Shelf Awareness

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312379063
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
  • Publication date: 9/29/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 608,176
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

James Preller

James Preller is the author of the popular Jigsaw Jones mystery books, which have sold more than 10 million copies since 1998. He is also the author of Six Innings, an ALA Notable Book, and Mighty Casey, his own twist on the classic poem, “Casey at the Bat.” In addition to writing full-time, Preller plays in a men’s hardball league and coaches Little League. He compares coaching kids to “trying to hold the attention of a herd of earthworms.” He lives in Delmar, New York, with his wife, three children, cats and dog.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Ketchup

The first time Eric Hayes ever saw him, David Hallenback was running, if you could call it that, running in a halting, choppy-stepped, stumpy-legged shamble, slowing down to look back over his shoulder, stumbling forward, pausing to catch his breath, then lurching forward again.

     He was running from, not to, and not running, but fleeing.

     Scared witless.

     Eric had never seen the boy before. But in this town, a place called Bellport, Long Island, it was true of most kids. Eric didn’t know anybody. He bounced the basketball, flicking it with his fingertips, not looking at the ball, or the rim, or anything else on the vast, empty grounds behind the middle school except for that curly-haired kid who couldn’t run to save his life. Which was too bad, really, because it looked to Eric like he might be doing exactly that—running for his life.

     Eric took a halfhearted jumper, missed. No lift in his legs. The ball bounced to the left wing, off the asphalt court and onto the grass, where it rolled and settled, unchased. Eric had been shooting for almost an hour. Working on his game or just killing time, Eric wasn’t sure. He was tired and hot and a little bored or else he would have bounded after the ball like a pup, pounced on it after the first bounce, spun on spindly legs, and fired up a follow-up shot. Instead he let the ball roll to the grass and, hands on his hips, dripping sweat, watched the running boy as he continued across the great lawn in his direction.

     He doesn’t see me, Eric thought.

     Behind him there was the sprawling Final Rest Pet Cemetery. According to Eric’s mother, it was supposedly the third-largest pet cemetery in the United States. And it’s not like Eric’s mom was making that up just to make Eric feel better about “the big move” from Ohio to Long Island. Because, duh, nobody is going to get all pumped up just because there’s a big cemetery in your new hometown, stuffed with dead cats and dogs and whatever else people want to bury. Were there pet lizards, tucked into little felt-lined coffins? Vietnamese potbellied pigs? Parakeets? People were funny about pets. But burying them in a real cemetery, complete with engraved tombstones? That was a new one on Eric. A little excessive, he thought.

     As the boy drew closer, Eric could see that his shirt was torn. Ripped along the side seam, so that it flapped as he ran. And . . . was that blood? There were dark red splotches on the boy’s shirt and jeans (crazy to wear those on a hot August afternoon). Maybe it was just paint. The whole scene didn’t look right, that much was sure. No one seemed to be chasing after the boy. He had come from the far side of the school and now traveled across the back of it. The boy’s eyes kept returning to the corner of the building, now one hundred yards away. Nothing there. No monsters, no goblins, no ghosts, no thing at all.

     Eric walked to his basketball, picked it up, tucked it under his arm, and stood watching the boy. He still hadn’t spotted Eric, even though he was headed in Eric’s direction.

     At last, Eric spoke up. “You okay?” he asked. Eric’s voice was soft, even gentle, but his words stopped the boy like a cannon shot to the chest. He came to a halt and stared at Eric. The boy’s face was pale, freckled, mushy, with small, deep-set eyes and a fat lower lip that hung like a tire tube. He looked distrustful, a dog that had been hit by too many rolled-up newspapers.

     Eric stepped forward, gestured to the boy’s shirt. “Is that blood?”

     The boy’s face was blank, unresponsive. He didn’t seem to understand.

     “On your shirt,” Eric pointed out.

     The boy looked down, and when his eyes again lifted to meet Eric’s, they seemed distant and cheerless. There was a flash of something else there, just a fleeting something in the boy’s eyes: hatred.

     Hot, dark hatred.

     “No, no. Not . . . bl-blood,” the boy said. There might have been a trace of a stutter in his voice, something in the way he paused over the “bl” consonant blend.

     Whatever it was, the red glop was splattered all over the boy’s pants and shirt. Eric could see traces of it in the boy’s hair. Then Eric smelled it, a familiar whiff, and he knew. Ketchup. The boy was covered with ketchup.

     Eric took another step. A look of panic filled the boy’s eyes. He tensed, stepped back, swiveled his head to again check the far corner of the building. Then he took off without a word. He moved past Eric, beyond the court, through a gap in the fence, and into the cemetery.

     “Hey!” Eric called after him. “I’m not—”

     But the ketchup boy was long gone.

Excerpted from Bystander by James Preller.

Copyright © 2009 by James Preller.

Published in 2009 by Feiwel and Friends.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 65 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(36)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(8)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 66 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2011

    If you like to read, pick this book because it's very intense!!

    Eric is the new kid in seventh grade. Griffin wants to be his friend. When you're new in town, it's hard to know who to hang out with-and who to avoid. Griffin seems cool, confident, and popular. But something isn't right about Griffin. He always seems to be in the middle of bad things. And if Griffin doesn't like you, you'd better watch your back. There might be a target on it. As Eric gets drawn deeper into Griffin's dark world, he begins to see the truth about Griffin: he's a liar, a bully, a thief. Eric wants to break away, do the right thing. But in one shocking moment, he goes from being a bystander . . . to the bully's next victim.When Eric moved from Ohio to Long Island, he expected there to be challenges, but he did not anticipate being befriended by the local bully, charismatic and troubled Griffin. As the boys' relationship grows, Eric is unsettled by Griffin's actions, which include stealing from elderly people, physically abusing classmates, and emotionally tormenting peers. Eric decides to stand up to Griffin through his actions, but quickly becomes a target. He must access all support available-through friends, teachers, and within himself-to do the right thing. Bullying is a topic that never lacks for interest, and here Preller concentrates on the kids who try to ignore or accommodate a bully to keep themselves safe. Victim David's pain is evident from the first moment newcomer Eric sees him, but he tries not to acknowledge the reality before him. His mother is trying for a fresh start in this Long Island community, as his father has succumbed to schizophrenia and left her and their two boys on their own, Griffin, the bullying instigator, has problems of sorts; he is a leader and yet suffers under his father's bullying and aggression. It is not easy moving from the Heart Lands to Long Island with a broken family, harder still being the new seventh grader in middle school. Wanting only to make friends, Eric Hayes finds himself in the middle games being played by the resident bully, Griffin, and his current target, David Hallenback. I think it's a very good book. I would recommend it to anyone.

    17 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 29, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    The book Bystander is about the new kid in school, Eric. He moved from Ohio to Long Island. When Eric first started this new school, a kid that was seemingly very nice and confident named Griffin wanted to be his new friend. Griffin was a great guy, good looking, confident, nice, and very trustable, according to the quote, “Griffin seems cool, confident, and popular” But as Eric becomes better friends with Griffin, he betrays Eric and things go down hill from there.
    Eric started to become really good friends with Griffin and his group. He thought he really did fit in somewhere. They sat together at lunch, Eric and Griffin have hung out a couple of times, and overall things were going Eric’s way, until Griffin stole from Eric. At that time he knew that Griffin no longer wanted to be friends with him. He stole money from Eric’s little brother when they were hanging out at his house. Eric also finds out that the elderly Griffin has been helping; he has actually been stealing from their cars when he helps them with their groceries. Now a target has been painted on Eric’s back, as said on the very first page, “You’d better watch your back; there might be a target on it.” Eric is the new target to the bully, Griffin. Eric only tried to stop Griffin from physically abusing, emotional tormenting, and bullying his peers. But when he tries to stop it, he becomes the victim. The earlier victim, David Hallenbeck is now on Griffin’s side and is going against Eric and all he does. All Eric did was try to help David.
    Later in the book, David asks Eric if they want to hang out at the basketball court, of course he says yes, at this time he has no idea that David is on Griffin’s side. They walked to the basketball court after school and David is acting strange, he leads them into the pet cemetery where Eric quickly realizes that Griffin and his buddies are following them. Griffin approaches Eric and says a couple of things about his friend that Eric called a weasel as said in the book, “Hey uh, Cody heard what you called him, he’s not to happy about it” At this point Cody steps forward. Cody is one of Griffin’s friends. Cody confronts him on the topic and when Eric repeats the word, weasel, Cody hits him hard in the face with a right hook as said, “And at that moment his fist went flying from the right, nailing me with a vicious right hook” Eric tried to fight back but Cody was a master at his martial arts. He is a black belt. After Cody beats up Eric in a “fair fight” David comes over and starts to kick Eric while he’s down” Eric now realized that he was the target and David was no longer.
    The book, Bystander should have been a best seller. This book really hooked me. I read it every day and after every day it was harder to put down. Anyone I have talked to about this book agrees that it is a great book. I really liked how the book was complete and total truth about what goes on when you’re the new kid in 7th grade. When I moved, I was the new kid in 7th grade so I could really connect. You didn’t know who the bullies were, or the nice guys, or the popular ones. Everyone had already established their groups the previous year and you felt like you couldn’t fit in. I was very surprised after I finished the book that it wasn’t a best seller. I think this book definitely deserves a spot.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    Lov it!!!!!

    I just finished this book yesterday, and i loved it. It was one of the very few books that i am sad to see it end. My LA class is reading it, for bully proventchen, and i loved it the moment i started reading it. My teacher said that there is a movie that is a lot like it, and we are going to watch it. But i think that they should make amovie on this book. I don't want to see any changes in the movie. This is a great book and i would recamend it to anyone. Espeshaly to teachers that are looking for a book on bullying!!! PS - Sorry i know that i am a horrible speller!! Bye.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    Booklover1234

    I just bought it its really intersting i finished it in a hour i suggest it to everybody.



    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 9, 2011

    Great read!

    This book is akazing. Its about a 7th grader who wants to fit in,but doesnt know whou to become friends with. Lots of betrayal and bullying.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2011

    Awesome book

    Teaches a very importent lesson for kids about bullying

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2011

    Pretty good book

    I liked the book

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Really Liked IT - MUST READ

    I am going into the 6th grade. Liked it a lot! tempting to just keep on reading and to not put the book down. Read it for your summer reading book! Very Powerful!

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2012

    I reallu I loved

    I was a little scepticle at first, but i am really glad i read it. I read for book clubs at school.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 2, 2012

    Recommended for middle school age kids.

    Excellet read for 6th and 7th graders - can even be used as a classroom read to discuss bullying, why kids bully? The roll of the bystander, the victim etc.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2012

    very amazing book - check it out!!!!!!!

    this book is amazing finished it for a book report and didn't want to put it down

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 31, 2011

    Havent read

    I have not read this book yet but its on the battle of the books so ill give it a shot

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2012

    Awesome

    I love this book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    Bad

    It was not exciting

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    Love james

    Best books in the world! U are the best writer ever keep writing books! I love all ur books! They are the best! 5 thumbs up! Great job james! Ove u and all ur books!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    Hmm....

    Didnt really like it. Only read the first four or five chapters and started getting a headache every time I picked it up. :/ Didnt like it at all. May be a Sunchine State book, but that doesnt mean its good....

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 1, 2014

    highly recommended

    my daughter read it for summer reading for middle school and she loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    Love this book

    I read the whole book in one week and i loved it in the begining it was borring but it seamed as if something bad was going to happen so it makes you want to keep. But it got interesting in the middle of the book and i do wish rhe book was a lot longer i felt like it left me off and i was still wondering what was going to happen. ONCE AGIAN I LOVE THIS BOOK.<3

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2013

    She got the matacali

    No abla english el lapez leche agua mango gelano bacuta ce el juono

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Ok

    The beginning was sort of boring but later on, it got more interesting. I wish it was longer.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 66 Customer Reviews

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