Scrawl [NOOK Book]

Overview


Tod Munn is a bully. He's tough, but times are even tougher. The wimps have stopped coughing up their lunch money. The administration is cracking down. Then to make things worse, Tod and his friends get busted doing something bad. Something really bad.
 
Lucky Tod must spend his daily detention in a hot, empty room with Mrs. Woodrow, a no-nonsense guidance counselor. He doesn't know why he's there, but she does. Tod's punishment: to ...

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Scrawl

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Overview


Tod Munn is a bully. He's tough, but times are even tougher. The wimps have stopped coughing up their lunch money. The administration is cracking down. Then to make things worse, Tod and his friends get busted doing something bad. Something really bad.
 
Lucky Tod must spend his daily detention in a hot, empty room with Mrs. Woodrow, a no-nonsense guidance counselor. He doesn't know why he's there, but she does. Tod's punishment: to scrawl his story in a beat-up notebook. He can be painfully funny and he can be brutally honest. But can Mrs. Woodrow help Tod stop playing the bad guy before he actually turns into one . . . for real?
 
Read Tod's notebook for yourself.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Shulman (Mom and Dad Are Palindromes) makes his YA debut with the story of Tod, a school bully forced to spend detention writing in a journal. Tod's latest crime was breaking into school with his buddies to steal a video camera, but he has a long history of beating up kids for their lunch money and destroying property. He's also a superb student, hiding his good grades behind his rough demeanor. As he writes, details of his home life emerge. Tod's house is barely habitable, and he is forced to help his mother in her job as a seamstress to make ends meet. His bullying is often less about wanting to hurt other kids than genuinely needing money, although he doesn't show much remorse. There's little that hasn't been done before--the overly smart bully with a troubled home life is a standard trope--but Shulman throws in some nice twists and gives Tod a strong, solid voice. Even the inevitable ray of hope doesn't fully distract from the bleakness of Tod's life. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
Scrawl is the rare novel written from the bully’s point of view. . . . It’s useful to point out that much can hide under a hardened exterior.” —Los Angeles Times

“There’s something special about this book. . . . It’s all put together so pleasingly, with punch and wit and smarts, and in such a way that the events and characters stay with you.” —PW.com “Shelf Talker” blog

“A memorable debut.” —Kirkus Reviews

“With the potential to occupy the rarified air of titles like S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Chris Crutcher’s Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, Scrawl paints the stereotypical school bully in a different, poignant light.” —VOYA

“Readers seeking an unflinching look at high-school politics from the perspective of the disenfranchised will find in Tod an illuminating guide.” —BCCB

“Tod has a real way with words (the way he crashes, then dominates the spelling bee is priceless). . . . Shulman establishes a nice voice for him, as Tod rips jokes so dry they can float away and shows some real heart dealing with his less-than-desirable lot in life. . . . An unusual sort of bully redemption story.” —Booklist

“In a unique version of a story told in journal format, the writing Tod does in detention becomes this book. . . . Through his own words, the reader grows to love this hard-edged character. . . . Tod’s voice is natural and consistent. Shulman captures the viewpoint of a believable eighth grader, while conveying Tod’s maturity and sharp sense of humor. Tod’s backstory is seamlessly woven into his narrative. This book will engage a wide audience, but it will appeal most strongly to junior high school boys, particularly those who may be bored by schoolwork or have trouble finding books that interest them.” —Children’s Literature

“This is a different take on the bully story. It lets the readers inside the mind of a bully and see the reasoning for his actions. The story is true to life, funny, and shows that people who are seen as troublemakers can change. . . . Highly recommended.” —Library Media Connection

VOYA - Jay Wise
Tod Munn is not a typical bully. Forced to write in a notebook because, in his words, he is "being reformed," Tod's diary entries, written to his school guidance counselor, chronicle his "fundraising activities," interactions with his "droogs" Rex, Rob and Bernie, and his slow road to redemption that begins with him crashing the school spelling bee and ends with him secretly supplying costumes for the school play. The notebook reveals an outwardly-hardened, inwardly-sensitive teen wrestling with the pull of loyalty to friends and fear of the future while just trying to survive the next week of school. As Tod begins to see that he might have a future beyond his hardscrabble neighborhood, a series of betrayals by those closest to him sets off a dangerous chain of events. Tod's journal attempts to answer the question, "How can anybody scrawl his story when he doesn't have anything to say?" Scrawl is at times hilarious, sarcastic, and angsty—a present-day Lord of the Flies (Capricorn Books, 1959) with the pathos and introspection of My So-Called Life (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1995). Blackmail, cliques, and a sense of hopelessness from both students and teachers sets up an unexpected ending that will leave readers with a new appreciation for how difficult high school can be. With the potential to occupy the rarified air of titles like S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders and Chris Crutcher's Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes (Greenwillow Books, 1993/VOYA October 1993), Scrawl paints the stereotypical school bully in a different, poignant light. Reviewer: Jay Wise
Children's Literature - Jennifer Lehmann
Tod Munn is used to being in trouble. The money situation at home has his mom stressed out, and in their small house, he is usually in his stepfather's way. At school, he is a bully, but he gets good grades without being anything like the ideal student. His current punishment, though, is unlike any he has had before. When he and his friends are caught on school property and accused of theft and vandalism, his friends spend their detention doing maintenance on the school grounds. Tod is sentenced to write his story in a stuffy classroom with the guidance counselor, Mrs. Woodrow. In a unique version of a story told in journal format, the writing Tod does in detention becomes this book. Mrs. Woodrow's comments are included, adding insight and revealing Tod's relationships with the guidance counselor and the broader school community. Through his own words, the reader grows to love this hard-edged character. He writes about his daily life, but his stories about finding costumes for the upcoming drama production and his frustrations with a student who actively works to humiliate him online gradually reveal his side of the conflict that led to his detention. Tod's voice is natural and consistent. Shulman captures the viewpoint of a believable eighth-grader, while conveying Tod's maturity and sharp sense of humor. Tod's back story is seamlessly woven into his narrative. This book will engage a wide audience, but it will appeal most strongly to junior high school boys, particularly those who may be bored by schoolwork or have trouble finding books that interest them. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—"I know what you think. You think I'm fixable, don't you? You want to fix the bad guy." Readers slowly learn what makes Tod, a self-confessed bully, tick by reading the notebook he writes in (not, he insists, a journal) during after-school detention. He is supervised by Mrs. Woodrow, the guidance counselor, for a school break-in with his buddies (droogs), who increasingly resent that he's gotten this cushy punishment while they are consigned to clean the school grounds. Tod is no dummy. He reads, does his homework, and gets good grades. But he's poor. His mom, a seamstress, does alterations for a dry cleaners (Tod helps), and he tries to stay away from her husband, whom he describes as "unpredictable." Lacking money for basic necessities like food and clothes, he extorts it from "losers" at school and otherwise tries to keep a fairly low profile. The plot is thin, as Tod gets roped into providing the costumes for a school play written and produced by "that spooky goth girl Luz Montoya." Still, he is a funny, quirky, interesting character. There are loose ends, but in the end it's not so much what happened, as the fun of getting there, finding out whether Tod is right or not when he writes, "I'm a loser, okay? I was born a loser and I'll live a loser and I'll die a loser. And nothing you do here is going to ever change that."—Joel Shoemaker, formerly at South East Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
Kirkus Reviews

Tod Munn is in trouble for breaking into school and vandalizing school property. Previously, he's taken kids' lunch money, broken eyeglasses, intimidated weaker kids. He's the stereotypical school bully. Or is he? His friends have been sentenced by the disciplinary committee to endless hours of cleanup duty, but Tod, for some reason, is sent to daily detention with Mrs. Woodrow, the guidance counselor and former English teacher, where his punishment is to write several pages per day in a composition notebook. And despite his handwriting, his scrawl, his prose is quite good, raising the question, early on, of how a thug like Tod could be such a literate writer, let alone have read Moby-Dick, Oliver Twist and A Clockwork Orange. But this novel-as-journal isn't just the author's conceit; Tod's writing skill, his clear prose and natural voice, makes sense as readers get to know him through his journal, in which he describes himself and his world and proves that maybe he's more than a "ghetto juvenile delinquent," which is just what Mrs. Woodrow had suspected. A memorable debut. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429941860
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 9/14/2010
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 115,384
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 650L (what's this?)
  • File size: 219 KB

Meet the Author

Mark Shulman has been a camp counselor, a radio announcer, a maitre d' in a fancy restaurant, a New York City tour guide, and a creative advertising guy. He's written many books about many things--sharks, storms, robots, palindromes, gorillas, dodo birds, Star Wars, Ben Franklin, how to hide stuff, how to voodoo your enemies, and how to make a video from start to finish. He's written picture books for Oscar de la Hoya (the boxer) and Shamu (the whale). Mark is from Rochester and Buffalo, New York, but he has lived in New York City for so very long that he tawks like he's from da Bronx. So do his kids. His wife Kara, a grade school reading specialist, has perfect diction.

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Read an Excerpt


Wednesday, October 27

Think about a pair of glasses for a second. You see them every day but you really don’t think about them, I bet. They’re just glass and metal, or glass and plastic. Little pieces of glass stuck on your face that mean everything. Maybe they mean you’re smart. Maybe they mean you’re rich. But definitely they mean you can’t see without them. Grind the glass this way, put in a slight curve, and you can see far. Change that curve a hair, just a tiny, minuscule difference, and you can see near. Grab the two lenses between your big hands and twist your wrist—just snap the part over the nose—now you can’t see anything for the rest of the day. That’s how it went for fat Ricardo Manzana.

The bell rang for English class and I’d promised Mr. Harmon I wouldn’t be late again. I got up off Ricardo’s chubby back, peeled myself off that authentic, autographed blue hockey sweatshirt he wears every day with the stupid hole in it, and I wiped off my big old carpenter pants. Ricardo was pathetic sprawled on the hall floor, not crying this time but blinking a lot and not talking either, like he was in bed that morning and he didn’t want to get up and go to school for some reason.
That’s the bell, Ricardo. Time to get up. Kids were starting to walk around us and look, but they steered plenty clear of me. Mostly they looked at Ricardo facedown on the sick green dusty floor next to the overflowing trash can. That’s when I noticed the orange peel next to the bright blue can for the first time, close by Ricardo’s tangled hair, but I really had to go.

Reaching down and helping Ricardo up would be a good idea. Usually they aren’t so quick to narc if you do something nice, something unexpected just before you walk away. I reached down with my hand thoughtfully, and I smiled, and I pulled Ricardo onto his fat stupid feet. I kept that smile going while I fogged up both halves of his glasses with my breath and wiped away my thick thumbprints. Just before I sauntered down the empty hall to class, I pressed the parts straight into his trembly palm. (Mrs. W., is trembly a word or should I have used trembling?)

They’re not even really glass, you know, almost never. Glass is easier to break than plastic. But I think it would be mean to crack the lenses. I guess we’ll always call them glasses anyway.

Tuesday, October 19

Call me Tod.
Okay, no, I’m just kidding. That’s the first line from Moby Dick, all right? I always wanted to start a book like that. This is my first book, and I’m writing it for one reason only. Not for history and not for scientific research and definitely not to let out my inner demons. I’m doing it so I don’t have to pick up trash in the school courtyard like certain deviant so-called friends of mine who also got caught.
I am being reformed.

The story begins with me, your humble narrator, alone and stranded after school in a Study Hall the exact same color as puke. I’m a prisoner caught in the fluorescent searchlights, looking pale green while I smudge blue ink in a black-and-white marble composition book. The floor is the same sad green as my pants, but my pants are a lot cleaner. My white pad of paper looks a little green, too.

When I looked up and asked you, “What do you want me to write about?” you said, “About anything.”

About anything? Okay. Fine with me. You asked for it. I’ll write about this desk.

I hate this desk. It’s nothing but a slab of plastic connected to my chair by a flimsy metal rod. Did you know that if you’re strong enough, you can twist the desk part up and around until it looks like an arm shrugging? Somebody has been doing that all over school. You know, if you put a lefty desk and a righty desk next to each other the right way, the desks really seem like they’re saying “I don’t care.”

They look about as bored and uninterested as the rest of us.

[Tod, do you really believe your feelings apply to every student?]
[So you’re going to write in my notebook?]
[When I feel the need.]

There’s a small cage under the chair that’s not big enough to hold half of the huge textbooks they make us carry. How come we have to carry a year’s worth of math when we’re only working on three pages a week? Can’t they come up with smaller textbooks they could give us every month so We The People Who Do The Homework don’t have to lug eleven trees back and forth every day? Especially the kids who’d rather sell their monthly welfare bus pass than use it.

This is taking so long to write. I can hear the huge prison clock buzzing and clicking every sixty seconds when the minute hand shifts. I’m actually grateful that they wasted money last year on these cheap loud clocks instead of better ones or air-conditioning.

Each minute, another tick! interrupts the teacher and comforts me—I’m one tick closer to the end of the class, the end of the day, the end of school forever. The clocks have huge numbers so the blind kids can read them. I’m not kidding, either. They probably tick! so the blind kids can share the equal opportunity of knowing how long the class is going to drag out, like the way elevators beep for every floor they pass. I think it’s weird we have those blind inclusion kids. Isn’t there a special school they can go to?

What else is in the room? There’s a cracked brown flowerpot with a dead stick in it. The stick was probably a plant. It’s got a red ribbon hanging off it like you would find on the corner of a diploma or if you won the Spelling Bee. The ribbon says “Congratulations,” but who the hell knows why? Congratulations, you finally got a low-paying teaching job. Congratulations, you just got tenure in a school full of mouth-breathers who can’t spell “TV.” Congratulations, you retired and didn’t die of boredom teaching the same idiocy to idiots who care less about what’s in your mind than what’s in your car. Congratulations, you just put your new plant on a baking-hot radiator in a room that overlooks a brick wall in a crappy part of town. Congratulations, we’re entrusting you with the mascot of our school. It’s a dead stick.

I’m sitting next to a chalkboard powdered with layers of dust. It makes me sick to breathe. The board is framed with some kind of dark wood that was probably pretty nice in its day. You can tell somebody cared then. All over the school I see that kind of wood where it hasn’t been painted or fallen down or ripped out. It’s smooth and has a nice pattern in it, or what ever real wood pattern is called. Too bad it’s chipped and gouged and splintered and covered with graffiti from wannabe crime kingpins leaving their mark on the world. When you’re an adult, you express yourself with flowers, and they die on the radiator. When you’re a kid, you make your name with fat-tip markers and carving knives. And you live forever.

Grain. The wood pattern is called a grain.

And there’s you. You’re reading this, Mrs. W., so I’m sure not going to say anything about the only other person in this miserable field of seven hundred desks. Okay? I wrote enough words. I’m done for today.

Wednesday, October 20

Tod, you did well on your first day in your detention journal. Keep it up and we’ll make it smoothly through the month. Please take a look at yesterday’s writing. I’ll be adding a few notes to what you write, and I’d like you to read them. Feel free to respond to those notes or ask me any questions. But ask me in writing. And I’d like at least the same number of words today. —Mrs. Woodrow
At least the same number of words? You mean you actually want more?

[No, this is an acceptable amount.]

I don’t know—my arm might fall off. Then what would I be? A one-armed bandit. Are you sure this isn’t some kind of jail sentence? It must be one for you, too. I can’t believe you got stuck with the job of babysitting me in this rat hole every afternoon. What did you get caught doing?

Here we are tied to these desks after school, me with this cruddy notebook and you with your stack of papers and envelopes to go through. Come to think of it, I’m sure all the other kids are jealous that I have my very own guidance counselor. If those long talks in your office didn’t sink in… and the meetings with my mom didn’t shape me up … why do you think I’m going to be sitting here every single afternoon, pencil in hand, brain on hold, humming lullabies and staying out of trouble?

[I have my reasons.]

I know what you think. You think I’m fixable, don’t you? You want to fix the bad guy. You don’t know the half of it. You don’t even know why we got caught. Some people will say the streets are safer with me locked away from my fund-raising activities. But are they right? I actually have a calming effect on certain potential troublemakers, and I often stop them from going through with their half-baked plans.

And another thing. Sitting here with you spares me from all kinds of unpleasant interactions with the armed rental cops. You teachers call them “sentries.” We call them “the clowns in brown.” Being up here in Study Hall means I don’t have to deal with those uniformed ex-wrestlers or nasty neck less gym teachers ragging on me for not being the star quarterback or not doing the six-minute mile or not wearing a jockstrap or spitting in the locker room. And up here there are no sudden surprises from the janitors when they show up where they shouldn’t. No unfair security cameras either.

Actually, detention makes a handy place to steer clear of the lower class of the lower class after school. Every neighborhood downtown has its own violent Neanderthal troglodyte hell-raisers. One particular un-neighborly neighbor likes to keep me on my toes at home. You might remember him from the eight times he was held back in school. He has a long memory, longer arms, and an IQ like a school-zone speed limit.

[Tod, that was a good simile but no more cursing, please.]

[Hell isn’t a swear word. It’s a neighborhood. The Number 8 bus will take you there.]

Here’s another good reason to waste away in here. With lifetime penmanship detention, I don’t have to come home and give my mom’s husband new reasons why I still haven’t gotten an after-school job. It wouldn’t matter. It’s not like they’re suddenly going to cut off my supply of macaroni and cheese and instant mashed. Even if by some fluke of nature I ended up bagging groceries, on the first day of work I’d melt the assistant junior manager with my laser beam opinions. In the amount of time it took to read this sentence, I’d be out of a job and back on the street anyway. I’m just saving myself the effort.

Here is my last good reason to stay in detention until even the stubby little yellow after school buses have taken the rich kids home from practice. It’s cold outside, and our house has broken windows.
I don’t know where I want to be today. Not here, but not anywhere else either.

Thursday, October 21

Tod, please don’t crack your gum today while you write. It’s annoying. The echo is very loud in this empty room, and it always startles me. Thank you.

Hey, I’ll try to be quieter with the gum. Chewing and cracking gum stops me from sticking out my tongue when I write.

Gum cracking also gives me a feeling like I’m still alive. But my friends aren’t so sure. They think I’m being brainwashed. They have heard stories of guys like me who lose it all after a few weeks under these crappy fluorescent lights. They expect the system will sap the sheer willpower that keeps my kind of personality alive in this detergent box. My loyal garbage-picking droogs think I’m getting my sharp edges removed by you in some weird mind game that is being played on me. Maybe the gum is my only defense here in jail. It keeps my guard off guard.

On the other hand, there is definitely something to be said for freedom. You told me that delivering a certain number of words is the key to freedom. So, please let me explain here and now that today I am absolutely going to fill up the number of words I write upon these pages by using a lot of synonyms. That trick is exactly the same one that is used by rich people like lawyers and advertising people when they want to charge more for their advice. If I use a lot of short synonyms and adjectives and strings of similar words then I can be out of this delightful, beautiful, pleasant, joyful, garden-like room before the sun goes down on this lousy, gray, cold, depressing, crappy, terrible, ugly, meaningless, rotten, hurtful, lousy, miserable cold day. Also, I intend to fill and fill and fill these pages by using short words when I happen to know that it is a fact that you want me to be revving up my twelve-cylinder brain and not pushing it down the street like some homeless dude with an overloaded grocery cart looking like he raided a Salvation Army dumpster.

[That is an atrocious mixed metaphor, and I’m not even sure what you mean.]

Short words that don’t describe school: hard, tough, good, fun, smart, nice, kind, fair.
Short words that do describe school: cold, empty, wasted, lonely, rude, lost, unfair, weird, dumb, awful, awfuller, awfullest.

Some longer words: competitive, disadvantaged, confrontational, valueless, forgettable, Neanderthal, dysfunctional, incarceration.

Excerpted from Scrawl by Mark Shulman.
Copyright © 2010 by Mark Shulman.
Published in September 2010 by Roaring Brook Press.
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
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2013

    The best book I was ever assigned.

    The best book I was ever assigned.

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

    Posted June 9, 2013

    I loved it

    It was really good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    Amazing

    I totally loved this book the first time I read it. A lot of people I know are really stupid because they didn't like it. They barely even gave the book a chance. It was a good book and I loved it! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2013

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2012

    Scrawl

    This book is written off of absolutely no story line. It's difficult to continue reading. The idea of having it written as a journal was brilliant! I'll give Shulman that much. I'm on page 41 and haven't found Shulman's "hook". Very disappointed in this book Mr. Shulman.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2011

    A very good book

    Scrawl is told from the perspective of "bully" Tod Mun. And while we all loathe bullies, Tod is not what you might expect. He's actually quite sympathetic. His acts of bullying are driven by those basic human needs we all have, and tempered by his intelligent mind and compassionate heart. He's more bark than bite. I loved getting to know Tod. I suspect you will too. A true gem of a book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2011

    this book is cool.

    SCRAWL


    The book that I am reviewing is Scrawl and its By Mark Shulman. This book was really a good book I wanted to read more.
    I though the book was good and it's easy to read I want to read it again. The book is about a kid named Tod and he sometimes gets in trouble and he goes to school but when he goes to class he does not like to be called on or talk a lot in class that's why teachers thinks that he's bad.
    I have done some stuff that the main character Tod has done some bad stuff like getting in trouble by teachers and I got in trouble outside of school. I sometimes felt like not talking to nobody sometimes like Tod does. I have done stuff that is bad just like Tod did. I like the book because it has awesome people like Tod, Bennie, Rex, and Ron their all cool. Some don't like doing anything.
    I would recommend this book to my friend I think he would like this book because it's about this boy that learns not to do stuff that's bad because you could get in to trouble.
    This is a awesome book because RICK FOX was the main character in this story. That's why this book is awesome.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Almost the best book ever

    Really, this book had be completely enraptured from paragraph one. Tod's description of things, his attention to detail, his smart remarks and even smarter school work. Really, he would be the perfect guy. Except for the fact that he's a bully. And as you read on, you'll discover that's not just the case. There's more to Tod then you can ever imagine. He's a great person, and through the eyes of his journal we get to see that side of him that we probably wouldn't have if we went to his school. Although he can sometimes ramble and you get confused if you don't read the dates, he completely pulls you into the story and makes you feel like you're there, like your Tod and this is your life your struggling to live. Mark is a genius! "No trespassing violators will be prosecuted". Only Tod. "What does this bully have to say for himself?" The answer is a lot. As you get further into Tod's story, you'll find yourself having a few choice words to say in his defense yourself.

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  • Posted November 18, 2010

    Highly recommended - you must check it out

    This is a great book. It takes you inside the mind of a kid you THINK is a bully... but is he really? He is funny and smart and tough and very misunderstood. And he's got hurt of his own. The book is fast to read and it made me laugh many times and I liked it very very much.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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