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“Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”
Summary: Griffith Gruffly, an eighth grader at Lincoln School, had always been a bully. Spoiled by benign neglect of his parents, his presence cowed fellow students; his bravado tested teacher and administrator patience; and his quick temper and physical size made him a danger to any and all. An elderly substitute teacher enters the scenario and Griff decides to show him who’s boss. Can the teacher handle Griff or has Griff taken on more than he can handle? This is a story for anyone who has been part of the bully cycle of hurt.
Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 13; read yourself: 12 and up
Interest Level: 9 and up
Reading Level: 7
Age of Child: Read by students at Northumberland Elementary School, Newport News, VA for the Reading Tub's Use Your ABCs program. Read with children ages 9 and 10.
Young Reader Reaction: After reading just the first chapter the kids were anxious to find out what would happen next. They spent the whole book wondering who the whisperer was. I was surprised at their reaction; they don't always pick up a book about bullying, but this kept them in suspense.
Adult Reader Reaction: The author deals with the topic of bullying by placing the bully (Griff) in a fantasy through which he experiences the pain and sorrow his actions and attitudes cause for those around him. It is hoped the experience will help him mend his ways. It works, but seems contrived.
Pros: At some stage in their lives, almost everyone has had experience in dealing with bullying and/or over-bearing people. This story accurately reflects the fears and apprehension that such personalities cause others and equally importantly, sheds some light on how bullies look at themselves.
Cons: A journey that was more grounded in reality might have made it easier for the reader grasp and appreciate.
Borrow or Buy: Buy for your school. This is a resource book for a teacher or parent who is concerned with bullying. Reading this along with a child or students could be most beneficial. The story allows lots of opportunities for discussing bullying and how it might be dealt with in their immediate circumstances.
Educational Themes: Bullying is an everyday issue in schools and communities. This book provides teachers and parents with a meaningful way to discuss and deal with the issue.
Literary Categories: fiction - adventure, series book, young adult, personal violence
Date(s) Reviewed: July 2007, November 2008
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