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Posts Tagged ‘Bullying’

Like Nobody’s Watching by L.J. Ritchie.

June 8, 2017 Comments off

nobody watchingLike Nobody’s Watching by L.J. Ritchie. Pub. Escalator Press, 2016.

This first novel is a finalist in Young Adult section of this years New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It is also up for best first novel and the subject is surveillance culture.

When Oscar’s high school fits 36 cameras in the school grounds to curb vandalism it changes the culture of the school but not in the way it was intended.

Oscar and his friends are not high profile year 10’s but they have a sense of justice. When Oscar’s friend Bronwyn alerts him to boys bullying her brother Will, Oscar finds a way to hack into the school system and view the surveillance video, then uses the video secretly and without trace to shame the bullies and blackmail them into to ceasing the bullying.

At first it works a treat, then they use the same system to stop year 11’s bullying the year 9’s. This time however it is complicated so they use  a social media site to shame the bullies again to great success.

The Internet never forgets and while Oscar and his friends don’t feel they are doing anything wrong because all is anonymous and bullying is unlawful, will they slip up and get caught?

But viewing the surveillance videos could be used in a more sinister way such as stalking. The students rebel and set up a petition to remove the cameras. Read it and find out what happens.

The novel is narrated by an eye of god technique and is told in short sharp sentences which took me a while to get used to. Nonetheless it impressed me with it’s perceptive look at teen culture in this hi tech wired up world we live in.

 

 

My Life as A Hashtag by Gabrielle Williams

May 28, 2017 Comments off

hashtagMy Life as A Hashtag by Gabrielle Williams. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2017.

I regard this novel as one of the most important novels for teens and young adults that I have read. Why?  Because it deals with the whole way that teenagers and the young communicate using social media and the serious problems that can occur when things go wrong.

Social media can be a vicious forum where people can say what they like and the word or concept “friend” is a misnomer like no other.

MC is an ordinary girl with good friends who go to school, party and text and communicate with each other all day every day. It is the social norm.

Misunderstandings over a boy between MC and her friend Anouk cause a ruckus on Tumblr that goes viral and shakes everyone concerned to the core. And the boy wasn’t worth it. After MC has been left out of a party at Anouk’s she uses an App that uses any face to deliver a message. MC picks celebrities including Justin Bieber and the Queen with a corgi on her lap, to humiliate Anouk, and it goes viral.

MC doesn’t realise that what she has done is bullying and her life falls apart. Can she recover and sets things right? Read this amazing story and find out.

Lots of amusing girl talk, some of it bitchy, and some laugh out loud moments. Dialogue between characters is particularly strong and there is a total scoundrel of a boy character.

The message from Gabrielle Williams is loud and clear. Cyber bullying is not ok. You cannot go back once you press that enter button. What you write is always there and can be very damaging to everyone.

It ends positively fortunately. There is a better way, it is just matter of finding it.

Middle School. I Funny. School of laughs by James Patterson, illus. Chris Grabenstein.

May 16, 2017 Comments off

school laughMiddle School. I Funny. School of laughs by James Patterson, illus. Chris Grabenstein. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2017.

I have reviewed a number of books by these two authors and they always have a funny way to address issues that concern children such as bullying and friendship which always have a positive ending.

The novels are easy to read, appeal to the reluctant reader of primary and intermediate age and are expertly illustrated.

In this novel wheelchair bound comedian Jamie has finished with his TV show and returned to school with his friends Gilda, Joey and Pierce. Once again they have to contend with bullies Stevie and Lars but this time the bullies have an ally in the new Headmaster, Coach Ball.

Coach Ball has a flattop haircut and a closet full of tracksuits and has a desire to close the school library and turn it into a wrestling arena. The new librarian Ms Denning has a month to prove that more than 50% of students are using the library or the die is cast.

Jamie and his friends set out to help, but how come Coach Ball drives a $140,000 Masaerati? Read it and find out.

 

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Too Clever by half by Aaron Moffat.

March 15, 2017 Comments off

clever by halfToo Clever by half by Aaron Moffat. Olympia Publishers, 2016.

I enjoyed reading this school story for middle and intermediate students because it dealt with a lot of social and economic issues that reflect the equalities and inequalities of today’s society. Plus it would be a great read-a-loud for years 5/6, 7/8 students.

Septimus is a bright boy, top of his class, a little out of condition, well nourished but with a father who is of the born to rule class who looks down on Septimus’s class mates whom he labels riff raff.

Septimus is bullied at school until there is a split in the ranks amongst the alleged riff raff. The nasty Jasper and Rico think Jamie has snitched on them, so he is pushed to the outer and develops a friendship with Septimus. This relationship is awkward at first because Jamie is a foster child but Septimus is glad of the company.

Difficulties arise when Septimus’s father meets Jamie and becomes determined to take Septimus out of school and put him in a Private school where he can mix with children of his own class. Septimus’s mother takes the opposite point of view and this conflict is one of the key sub plots within this novel.

Trouble with a neighbour who is reported to be a witch and a broken window polarise positions within Septimus’s family. Then the school enters the Krypton Kids TV  competition with Septimus, Rico and a saucy young girl called Antonia entered.

You will have to read the rest yourself if you want to know what happens.

Well written but the chapters may be a bit long at times. I call it lofty writing with all the social differences well argued. Some may be deterred by this but the school matters will be familiar to all students.

Interested parties can contact the author at  astmoffat@gmail.com

 

What Not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford.

February 21, 2017 Comments off

turn-invisibleWhat Not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford. Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

One of the funniest and most interesting children’s novels I have read for some time. It is for pre – teens and teens and once you start you will not put it down.

Thirteen year old Ethel lives in the North of England with her Gram. Her mother died when she was three and her father left in mysterious circumstances and Gram has never talked to her about it. Ethel is going to find out who and what they were in bizarre circumstances that involve trying to find a cure for her facial acne.

The combination of an on-line purchase of a Chinese remedy and a sunbed cause Ethel to become invisible. She is however only invisible when naked. She panics of course and has various absurd situations that will crack you up.

Then on a visit to her 100 year old great grandmother the old dear calls her Tiger Pussy. Who or what is Tiger Pussy? Well you are going to find out if you read the book.The mystery deepens with the visit of a man who smells of cigarettes and the discovery of a tin box with newspaper articles about an Amy Winehouse type pop singer called Felina. This will rattle Ethel’s cage at a time when her invisibility is causing problems.

Brilliantly written in three parts with 96 short chapters, this novel goes along at a rate of knots that will thrill you. There are sub plots involving bullying from twin brother and sister Jarrow and Jesmond Knight that will make you angry and gleeful at the same time. Ethel’s friend Boydy a cockney living in geordie country is a revelation, but the character of the book is Gram who is full of old fashioned wisdom and says things like “it is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”

A very satisfying read.

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

December 7, 2016 Comments off

delicate-monstersDelicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn. Pub. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2015.

If you have ever done something really bad that has deeply hurt or affected others, and you have kept it a secret and carried the guilt of it all around with you, then this is a novel for you.

The teenage years can be wonderful and they can be mixed up. Many teens struggle to find out who they are and worry what others think of them. The three main characters in this novel have a lot of these feelings in them.

Sadie Vu is from a wealthy family who live in the wine growing area of California. She has been expelled from many boarding schools, cares about nothing and sees herself as pathological. She does things because they are bad and she has been responsible for the near death of Roman, a boy who really liked her.

Emerson is a 6ft 4 inch basketball player whose father committed suicide in his ’64 ford mustang, a car Emerson still drives. He is sadistic in behaviour and carries around secrets that he needs to resolve. His brother is a sickly soul called Miles, a boy who has allergies, who is often sick , has visions that appear to come true and is bullied mercilessly.

Mix these characters together and you have a stunning story that will keep you reading and wondering where it is going. It is disturbing, chilling and disconcerting but you must finish.

This aptly named novel is splendidly written in four parts  by an author  with a degree in sport psychology who is working towards  a doctorate in clinical psychology. She doesn’t miss a trick with the ending being open and powerful.

Definitely for mature students and young adults. Those who have read All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven will love this novel

Fire Island. A Keri series book by Jenni Francis.

November 23, 2016 Comments off

fire-islandFire Island. A Keri series book by Jenni Francis. Pub.  www.jennifrancis.com  2014.

Bullying is the major theme of this short readable novel for girls of Intermediate school age. See an earlier review elsewhere on this blog.

The setting is a school camp on a volcanic island, east coast North island.

There is an old saying that goes “if you hold your chin up you are also sticking your neck out”. Keri is an intelligent, gifted and brave girl of intermediate age who has fallen foul of her old friends who now bully her.

When Keri defends a 9 year old girl from Rochelle, Danielle and her gang of five it has repercussions for Keri and her friends on school camp.

Keri stands firm to the gang defending James, a nerdy boy who has talents that nobody expects, and her other friends. The teachers get it all wrong against accomplished liars and things look grim for Keri. There is a new girl with a problem, trouble on the water while sailing, a fire and a broken leg as well as the school camp activities.

Good adventure and much to ponder in Jenni Francis’s tightly written no nonsense narrative. The dialogue is particularly good.