Gr 4-6-Tully is dreading sixth grade. He's happy at home on his family's ranch and he's eagerly awaiting the birth of his mare's first foal, but he is afraid of the bully who made last school year miserable and worried that this year will be no better. His nemesis is Honey Kotcher, the biggest, meanest girl on Matagorda Island. Due to one small act of kindness from Tully, however, Honey decides to make him her hero and treats him like a boyfriend. It turns out that being liked by her is far worse than being bullied by her. When Tully screams out his hatred of her during a parents' night performance, turnabout seems to be fair play and soon everyone is treating Honey as miserably as she has always treated them. The assumption is that the girl's antisocial behavior can be attributed to the suspected abuse she receives at the hands of her father. Children and adults have noticed bruises on her, but no one reports this or tries to investigate it because, as a classmate tells Tully, she has no other relatives on the island and, ``Who else but kin would take Honey Kotcher in?'' This seems like an irresponsible excuse for lack of action. The story moves along quickly and the premise is lively enough to keep readers' interest. A sense of place (the island is off the Gulf coast of Texas) is developed nicely, but the characters are one-dimensional and the lack of adult intervention sends the wrong message to the intended audience.-Sharon Grover, Arlington County Department of Libraries, VA
Eleven-year-old Tully Webster feels cautiously optimistic about starting sixth grade, having recently alerted his enemy and classmate, bully Honey Kotcher, that a game warden may arrest her for keeping baby alligators. Unfortunately, Honey, aka "Fearsome," goes to the opposite extreme, developing a crush on Tully and publicly labeling him her hero. Tully's comic and largely unsuccessful efforts to extricate himself from this embarrassing situation--as well as a minor plot involving Tully's mare and her new foal--make an appealing and engaging novel. The author's frequent touches of local color (Matagorda Island off the coast of Texas) never seem forced and are woven naturally into the story. Although she suggests that family abuse may be at the root of Honey's asocial behavior, Schenker wisely steers clear of trying to cure her, settling instead for a fresh and funny look at some very interesting personalities learning to get along in spite of their differences. A satisfying and realistic middle-grade read.