Bully on the Bus

Bully on the Bus

by Kathryn Apel



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610677707
Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Publishers
Publication date: 01/01/2019
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.75(h) x (d)

About the Author

Kathryn Apel is a children’s author and part-time literacy coordinator. She is the author of Fencing with Fear and This Is the Mud! and has had poetry and short stories published in children’s magazines in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Kathryn is also the recent winner of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature - Young Readers/Picture Books.

Read an Excerpt

Bully on the Bus

By Kathryn Apel

University of Queensland Press

Copyright © 2014 Kathryn Apel
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7022-5438-3


    The Bully

    She's big.
    She's smart.
    She's mean.
    She's the bully on the bus.
    She picks on me and I don't like it.

    I don't know
    how to make her

    Bully Ways

    Hurting hands

    I wriggle and squirm,
    move away –
    but sly fingers

    Sneaky feet

    Like a clumsy camel
    I stagger ... stumble ...
    sprawl flat on my face
    as the bus crowd
    claps and cheers.
    But not Ruby
    or me.

    Most of all, the bully hurts me with her words.

They spew out
of her mouth like
lava from a volcano.
Red-hot, dangerous words,
burning right down, deep inside.

    'Everybody knows, that Leroy picks his nose,'
    the bully chants.

    'Picker-Licker Leroy, he's the Booger-Boy.'
    And everyone laughs...
    except Ruby
    and me.

    The bully is mean.

    I don't know
    how to make her

    Big Bully

    The bully is
    bigger than Ruby,
    much bigger than me,
    as big as my mum,
    but not as big as Dad.

    She doesn't go to our school –
    goes to high school,
    doesn't like school,
    says it's stupid
    and for dummies.

    I like school!

    Show and tell,
    have a go,
    words I know,
    reading groups,
    playing shops
    with my friends –
    Mrs Wilson's

    The bully says she's quitting school
    and never going back!

    She wants to be a hairdresser;
    work fulltime at the salon
    where she works on weekends;
    gets her hair done
    for free.

    She says, 'Soon there'll be
    no more school – ever!'
    But until then she's

    Yes You

    'DJ – stop teasing the little kids,'
    the bus driver says.

    'Who me?'
    she asks, as sweet and soft as fairy floss.
    'I didn't do a thing.'

    She pulls my hair
    then flicks my ear
    and when I turn around she growls,
    'Face the front.
    I've seen enough of your
    ugly face.'

    Sometimes the bully makes my eyes cry.

    'Look at the baby,'
    she says to the other kids.
    'Cry-Baby Leroy – did you forget your dummy?'

    'Leave my brother alone,'
    Ruby says.

    'He's not hurting you.'

    'Shut up!'
    snaps the bully
    as she turns around to snarl
    at Ruby
    and her friends
    three rows back.
    'It's none of your
    business, Roo-bee.
    Little girls in grade five
    shouldn't tell high school kids
    what to do!'

    Then she spins around,
    jabs her finger
    at me,
    shakes her
    shaggy orange mane
    and roars,


    Bus Driver

    in the afternoon,
    when we wait for all the kids
    to get out of school and onboard,
    the bus driver turns around
    in his seat for a chat.

    He's like my grandad –
    not much hair on his head,
    but it's in his ears and up his nose

    The driver likes it when I tell him
    what the Superkids have been learning.
    'Mrs Wilson's a good teacher,' he says.
    I tell him I know that!

    the driver tells me about
    when he was a boy,
    and he rode
    bareback to school
    with his brothers and sister
    on an old horse
    called Youngen.

    But when the bus door shuts
    and the engine starts,
    the driver switches off.

    'I can't be chatting while I'm driving,'
    he says, eyes on the road, as we start to roll.
    'It's a big responsibility getting all you kids
    home safe.'

    And he's back in his own world,

    facing forwards,
    blocking out
    bus kid noises
    and I'm trapped.

    Don't feel safe
    going home
    with the bully
    on the bus.

    The Wheels on the Bus

    The wheels on the bus
    go round and round
    all the way to

    'The Baby on the bus goes,
    "Wah! Wah! Wah!"'
    the bully bellows, pointing at me
    as the bus crowd choruses the cries,
    'Wah! Wah! Wah!'
    louder and louder until
    'Wah! Wah! Wah!'
    The bus driver thunders,
    'Stop that racket!'
    and everyone screams laughing,
    except Ruby
    and me.

    Blood thumps
    loud and hot
    in my chest,
    and the wheels on the bus go
    round and round


    Drop Offs

    Bus stops
    door opens
    kids off
    goodbye chorus.
    Door closes
    stories chopped
    words flung
    through windows.
    Bus moves
    pulls away
    driving off
    leaving kids
    silent actors
    miming words.
    On the bus
    faces pressed
    to the glass
    calling out,
    'I can't hear you!'

    And the driver
    changing gears
    doesn't hear,
    doesn't want to,

    in a world
    of his own,
    eyes the road
    straight ahead.

    Does his job.
    Drives the bus
    Drops the kids
    home safe.

    Into the Blue

    I hunch down low
    in my seat and watch
    farms flick past.

    branches reaching high
    to the sky,
    birds flying

    I wish I could climb
    to the top of the tallest tree
    then step out into
    the cool blue sky

    and fly

    away from the bully

    But I'm trapped
    on the bus
    in my seat
    with the bully
    right behind me –
    to explode

    at me.

    Our Stop

    As the bus
    rounds the bend I reach down
    for my bag.

    Almost home.

    But it's stuck!

    Bend over,
    reach under,
    pull harder,
    still stuck.

    Then I feel
    something heavy
    on top
    squashing down.

    Wriggle fingers
    try to free it.

    Presses harder.
    Peering under
    I see
    big bully shoe!

    'Loser,' the bully hisses.

    I pull.


    crunch gravel.
    Door opens.
    Bully shoe slips away.
    I grab my bag and
    along the aisle,
    down the step,
    out the door.
    Crunch gravel
    guzzling great gulps of air.


    bully ways,
    bully words,
    bully feet,
    baby tears.

    Just Ruby
    and me
    and a long, dusty track
    stretching into
    the weekend.

    Sticks and Stones

    Ruby's ponytail
    swishing as she marches ahead
    kicking sticks
    and stones
    to clear a path
    her anger.

    I find a stick
    on the side
    of the track –
    start to drag it,
    weaving backwards,
    watching a long, skinny trail
    snake out
    behind me.



    The weekend will be over
    before we're even home,'
    Ruby cries.
    'Come on!'

    I run,
    scribble stick
    skidding behind me,
    while Ruby
    hands on hips,
    scuffing shoes
    and scowling.

    'Are you mad at me?'

    Ruby huffs.
    'I'm not mad at you,'
    she says,
    picking up a stone
    and hurling it across the paddock.

    'But I'm sick of
    the kids on the bus,
    and DJ and her stupid, nasty names.'

    I hunch over,
    start drawing
    a circle
    in the dirt
    with my scribble stick.

    Ruby stoops,
    plops rocks
    in place
    for eyes,
    then I scratch
    a long sweeping arc of sadness
    for the mouth.

    'Dad says,
    "Sticks and stones
    may break my bones
    but names will never
    hurt me."'

    I toss my stick into
    the grass,
    slip my hand into Ruby's
    and squeeze tight.

    'But it's not true,
    is it, Ruby?'

    Cupcake Critters

    is baking day.
    'What will we make today?'
    Mum asks.

    I want to make
    cupcakes so we can have
    LOTS of cakes.

    Ruby measures the flour and sugar.
    Mum pours the milk.
    I get the butter
    and crack the egg
    all over the bench.
    We mix the mixture
    then Mum and Ruby spoon it
    into patty papers
    while I spoon it into
    my mouth.

    'We can make cupcake critters,'
    I say, while Ruby and I lick the bowl.

    When the cupcakes cook
    and cool
    we mix coloured icing and
    use lollies and sprinkles to make
    crazy cupcake critters.

    Dad is home
    for lunch and wants
    to help
    the icing,
    the lollies,
    the sprinkles,
    but we say,
    'No! Go away.'
    And Mum says, 'Look at you–
    you're filthy. Go and wash your hands.'

    Then we

    until all the leftover lollies
    are gone
    in monster mouths.

    shakes her head,
    but she's laughing
    when Dad comes back
    sniffing around like a hungry wolf.

    'Where are all the lollies?' he growls,
    grabbing Mum in his paws
    as she squeals,
    pointing at Ruby
    pointing at me
    looking guilty,
    laughing out loud
    looking at Dad
    catching on
    as he howls,
    'You ate all the lollies!
    Little piggies.'

    Then he tickles our tummies
    until we're one big breathless laugh,
    and Mum cries,
    'Stop it!
    They'll laugh themselves sick
    after all that sugar.'

    Hungry Wolf

    Dad is drooling and
    licking his lips
    over our crazy cupcake critters.
    We help him pack his esky
    with the thermos, milk powder,
    sugar, mug and tea bags,
    and tell him he can choose
    two cupcakes for afternoon tea.

    'These'll keep the wolf at bay,'
    Dad says, choosing the biggest,
    stickiest cupcakes
    on the rack.

    'You can't take this one,'
    I say, pointing at a green-eyed monster
    cupcake with chocolate sprinkles,
    white jellybean teeth
    and bright green Smarties eyes.

    'It's for Mrs Wilson.'

    'Mrs who?'

    'You know ... my teacher!'

    'That's okay then,' Dad says,
    hoisting up his esky and heading for the ute.
    'But make sure you leave the rest
    for me.'

    'Next time I want to make one for
    all the Superkids,' I say.

    'Good idea,' Dad says.
    'They can all share one – and the rest will be
    for me!'

    Playing Pretend

    'What are we going to play?'
    I ask Ruby.

    Our rooms are tidy,
    jobs done.
    Ruby practised her
    trumpet, loudly,
    while I helped Mum clean up
    the kitchen.
    Dad is over the paddock
    digging a new dam.
    Ruby and I have all afternoon
    to play.

    'Let's pretend
    I'm a bully.'

    I snort.

    'You can't be
    the bully, Ruby,
    your hair's always brown.
    The bully's hair is always
    changing colour.'

    'You'll just have to
    use your imagination,'
    Ruby says.
    'Today it's brown,
    but tomorrow,
    it might change!
    Now, pretend I'm the bully
    and you have to make me
    bullying you.'

    I don't like that game.
    Don't want to play.
    Had forgotten
    the bully.
    Don't want to
    But Ruby won't listen.

    Starts to

    'I don't like it
    when you're a pest, Ruby,'
    I grumble.
    'Stop it now.'

    Ruby laughs,
    takes my hat and
    runs away
    So I chase her,
    leaping and bounding,
    as kangaroos
    scatter like skittles
    and we run helter-skelter
    screaming over the paddock
    until I stop,
    huffing and puffing.

    me my
    hat,' I gasp,
    'or you'll
    have no-one
    to play with,
    you big bully.'

    Ruby tosses my hat
    and I catch it as she tackles me
    gasping and giggling
    into the grass.

    'Next time I'll be the bully,' I say.

    But Ruby doesn't laugh.

    'No way, Leroy.
    Bullies aren't cool.
    You be yourself.

    better than a bully
    any day.'

    Sick of the Bully

    On Monday
    I'm slow to get dressed.

    My tummy burns
    and churns
    and I feel


    'Hurry, Leroy,' Mum says.
    'The bus will be here soon
    and you'll be running
    down the track
    to catch it.'

    What will the bully do today?

    'I don't feel well.

    Can I stay home?'
    Mum frowns,
    my head,
    my throat,
    my eyes.

    'You don't look sick.
    I think you'll be all right.
    Besides, you've got to take
    Mrs Wilson's cupcake critter,
    don't forget.'

    'Maybe you should drive me,
    so the green-eyed monster
    doesn't get squashed.'

    'But the bus goes right past
    our house,' Mum says,
    'and I don't need to
    go to town today.'

    'The bus is noisy,
    rough 'n' tough
    and takes so long.
    I'd just like you
    to take me.'

    But Mum doesn't understand.

    'I think you had too much fun
    playing with your big sister
    on the weekend, but now it's time
    for school again.
    Go on the bus with Ruby,'
    she says, 'and I'll be waiting
    to hear all about
    your day.'

    Mum doesn't help.


    sit with us
    up the back,'
    her friends call
    as I slide into a seat,
    in the middle of the bus, and
    hug my schoolbag on my lap
    with two cupcake critters
    safely packed inside.
    One for Mrs Wilson
    and one for

    Ruby smiles
    as she passes, but is soon
    crouched in a huddle
    sharing a weekend's worth of secrets
    with her friends.


    The bully
    is on the prowl
    pacing the bus on the hunt
    for food.

    'Hey, Loser.
    What did Mummy pack
    for lunch today?'

    I squirm
    towards the window,
    use my body as a shield
    so my bag
    is out

    I don't want the bully
    to find my

    my little friend,'
    the bully sings as she
    slides into the seat
    beside me, smirking
    through a jagged curtain of
    black hair.

    'What's for lunch?'

    A Pinch ...

    I look around
    for Ruby,
    the bus driver,
    someone to help.

    But all I see is
    bully hair,
    bully nails
    and painted bully face leaning
    closer and closer as
    sneaky fingers


    Like a snake she strikes.
    Grabs my schoolbag.

    The zip buzzes like an angry bee
    and my bag gapes open.

    Then the bully starts rummaging through
    flicking hat,
    spelling book,
    and pencils
    into the aisle.

    Mrs Wilson says
    we have to take care
    of our readers,
    but the bus floor is dirty
    and now the pages
    are crumpled.

    I feel the tears
    burning my eyes,
    slipping down
    my cheeks
    and choking my throat as I
    huddle against the window –

    Why can't Ruby see?
    I sneak a peek
    and spy Ruby and her friends
    lost in laughter
    leaving me
    with the bully.

    ... And a Punch

    How cute!
    Leroy the Loser
    has a LION lunch box.
    D'ya think that makes him brave?'

    I gulp,
    reach out and
    try to take my lunch box,
    but the bully
    punches my hands away and
    unzips my lion lunch box,
    shaking all the containers until she finds...

    My favourite.
    And there's lollies on them.
    Aww, thanks, Leroy.
    Looks like I won't
    go hungry after all.'

    'Ru-by!' I cry
    as the bully drops my lunch box,
    spilling containers across the floor.
    The bully slides out of my seat
    and away,
    taking my
    cupcake critters
    with her.

    'Not the green-eyed monster!' I cry.
    'It's for Mrs Wilson.
    I made it...

    ... it's ... my ... favourite.'

    The bully stops,
    looks at the kids
    in the seats around me
    and laughs.

    Some of them laugh
    with her,
    others look away
    but no-one
    to stop her.

    Why won't they make her stop?

    'You couldn't bake this
    if you tried, Loser,'
    the bully sneers,
    biting into
    my monster cupcake and crunching
    two wide-eyed Smarties
    and sweet chocolate sprinkles
    in one greedy gobbling mouthful.
    'Besides,' she sputters,
    spreading cake crumbs everywhere,
    'we all know I brought these
    from home,
    don't we?'

    Too late,
    past the bully,
    knocks the cupcake critter


    Crumbly mess,
    bus floor,
    bully howls,
    bully feet
    Mrs Wilson's
    green-eyed monster

    Ruby slides
    into the seat
    beside me.

    'You can make Mrs Wilson
    another one ... a better one,
    and I'll help you
    keep filthy hands
    off it,' she says,
    glaring at the bully.

    Drive You Crazy

    'Urgh! Gross!'
    the bully yells,
    out the window
    spraying slobber streaks
    across the glass.
    'I've been eating
    Picker-Licker Leroy's
    booger monster cake.
    I ... feel ... sick,' she wails,
    clutching her tummy
    and rolling around on the seat.

    The bus slows
    to collect
    more kids and the driver
    turns around.
    He stands,
    points at DJ
    and snaps,
    'Quit the noise!
    You're driving me crazy
    and you're old enough
    to know better.
    Start setting an example!'
    Then he looks at the floor,
    which looks worse
    than Ruby's bedroom!

    lunch box and
    are all spewed across the floor.

    'This bus is NOT a rubbish bin,'
    the driver says,
    'and I shouldn't have to
    clean up after you kids!'

    Then he spies
    DJ's slobber trail
    streaking across the window.

    His head reels back
    and his eyes bulge as he bellows,
    'Who's been
    spitting on my windows, again?
    If I ever catch you,
    you'll be
    washing every window of my bus!'

    Then he sighs,
    shakes his head
    and shuffles back to his seat.

    'No-one gets off this bus
    until you clean up this mess,'
    he tosses over his shoulder
    as the bus starts rolling again.

    Dumb and Stupid

    'Hey, Leroy,'
    the bully sneers,
    as I'm huddled in my seat
    heading home.
    x 98

    'We don't know that yet.
    Mrs Wilson hasn't
    taught us.'

    The bully laughs
    a rude snorting sound.
    'Leroy's dumb!
    He can't do the sum.'

    I feel the red-hot
    lava spill out of the
    bully's mouth and ooze
    over my face
    burning it
    clumsy red.

    I'm good at maths.
    Mrs Wilson says so.
    But the bully makes me feel


    'You're not scared
    of a few little numbers
    are you, Loser?'

    'That's stupid,' says Ruby.
    'He's too young to know that stuff.
    I bet you can't do the sum!'

    The bully jerks around,
    jagged black hair swishing
    like a storm cloud across her face as
    she snarls at Ruby,
    'Does the cry-baby
    need his big sister
    to hold his hand?'

    Then the bully kicks
    my schoolbag
    into the aisle
    and squashes
    under her big bully
    pinning them
    to the metal frame
    of the seat in front of me.

    She leans in closer
    and I'm stuck!

    'If you dob,
    I'm gonna get you,'
    she hisses,
    spraying spit
    like poison
    over my

    Not Telling

    Ruby wants me
    to tell

    What will the bully
    do to me
    if I

    Ruby huffs her hair
    out of her eyes and
    spins around,
    gripping my shoulders
    and leaning closer.
    'It's not right. It's not FAIR!
    She's nothing but a big bully.'
    Ruby looks me straight in the eye.
    'You've got to tell someone.'

    I can't look at Ruby.
    I gaze past her
    into the distance and hear
    red-hot lava words whistling
    around like a steamed-up kettle
    inside my head.

    '... I'm gonna get you ... If you dob ... I'm gonna
    get you ... If you dob ...'

    'You don't have
    to put up with this, Leroy,'
    Ruby says, squeezing my shoulder.
    'Mum will know what to do.

    Mum can stop it!'
    But my insides are
    twisting, turning
    and churning
    into lumpy,
    bumpy tangled
    and I'm scared.

    Too scared to tell.

    I don't look at Ruby
    as I shake my head
    and mumble,

    'Please, Ruby,

    Green-Eyed Monster

    'Did you give Mrs Wilson the cupcake?
    What did she say?'

    Blood thunders around inside
    my head and
    my tummy
    but I don't
    look at Mum.

    I want to roar like a lion
    and stomp like a dinosaur,
    but my heart is howling like a hyena as I pull
    my uniform shirt over my head
    and mumble,

    'It got squashed on the bus
    and I don't think Mrs Wilson likes
    green-eyed monster cupcakes

    I hunt around,
    grab my home shirt and
    tug it on.
    Then I peep in the mirror
    at my mousey hair
    crackling with static electricity,
    and Mum


Excerpted from Bully on the Bus by Kathryn Apel. Copyright © 2014 Kathryn Apel. Excerpted by permission of University of Queensland Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


The Bully,
Bully Ways,
Big Bully,
Yes You,
Bus Driver,
The Wheels on the Bus,
Drop Offs,
Into the Blue,
Our Stop,
Sticks and Stones,
Cupcake Critters,
Hungry Wolf,
Playing Pretend,
Sick of the Bully,
A Pinch ...,
... And a Punch,
Drive You Crazy,
Dumb and Stupid,
Not Telling,
Green-Eyed Monster,
Home Reader,
Graph to School,
Too Many Tears,
Keeping Mum,
No Bully,
Star Superkid,
Stolen Treasure,
Stuck for Words,
No More Stickers,
The Dragon,
Drive to School,
I Can Do It,
How to Bust a Bully,
Facing the Dragon,
Home Safe,
The Secret Weapon,
The Big Bad Book of Fairy Tales,
Little Pig,
Lost in the Book,
It's All Just an Act,
Little Red Robin Hood Comes to Play,
One Seat Away,
Bully for YOU!,
Free to be ...,
Clued In,
Super-Special Cupcake Critters,

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