From different perspectives, explores middle school bullying as Maggie, tired of Elizabeth Moon's superior attitude, creates a fake profile on a popular social networking site to teach Elizabeth a lesson.
From the Publisher
An insightful exploration of middle school bullying from multiple perspectives, by the award-winning author of Anything But Typical.
Elizabeth Moon grew up around dogs. Her mom runs a boarding kennel out of their home, so she's seen how dogs behave to determine pack order. Her experience in middle school is uncomfortably similar.
Maggie hates how Elizabeth acts so much better than everyone else. Besides, she's always covered in dog hair. And she smells. So Maggie creates a fake profile on a popular social networking site to teach Elizabeth a lesson.
What makes a bully, and what makes a victim? It's all in the perspective, and the dynamics shift. From sibling rivalries to mean girl antics, the varying points of view in this illuminating novel from the award-winning author of Anything But Typical show the many shades of gray--because middle school is anything but black and white.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
July 23, 2013
194 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
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Reviews & Awards
- Booklist, 07/01/13
- Horn Book Magazine, 04/01/14
- Kirkus Reviews, 06/15/13
- New York Times, 08/25/13
- Publishers Weekly, 06/03/13
Booklist (July 2013 (Vol. 109, No. 21))
Grades 5-7. Elizabeth, whose mother expects her to help with the dogs boarded in their home kennel, is used to occasional teasing from her middle-school classmates, but she’s stunned to be maliciously targeted on a social-media site. Meanwhile, classmate Matthew is suspended for punching a teammate who was urinating on his shoes. While these incidents provide focal points for the narrative, the book looks at individual students in a broader context. Baskin takes on the complex topic of bullying and handles it in a complicated way, through multiple points of view that include bullied kids, bullying ones, and bystanders. The narration shifts from first person to third person to letters, memos, and other documents while also changing from one individual’s perspective to another’s and assuming that readers will quickly figure out whose viewpoint is featured in each chapter. Although this approach offers insights into the characters’ thoughts and motivations, it slows the story’s momentum. Still, some chapters make riveting reading, and the novel could serve as a springboard for discussion.
Read all 5 full-text reviews …
Horn Book Guide (Spring 2014)
When mean girl Maggie posts a social-media profile victimizing a classmate, the effects ripple across a varied cast of characters, each of whom is revealed through his or her own eyes and those of others. The shifts between points of view are confusing at times, but Baskin paints her characters with insight and subtlety and ultimately spares them the standard transformations. A timely story about cyber-bullying.
Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2013)
Bullies and the bullied: Could it help if they just better understood each other? Baskin (Anything But Typical, 2009) has proven that she can sensitively handle the complex interpersonal relationships of the middle school set. Here, she takes on a daunting project, presenting a couple of separate bullying incidents from the perspectives of a variety of the players. Elizabeth's growing up in an impoverished, single-parent home. Her notably lackadaisical mother takes in pets for an inadequate living, but Elizabeth, responsible and sensitive, handles the chores. Maggie--who's become a middle school diva and turned her back on former best friend Freida--decides (but later regrets) to seek revenge for a perceived slight in the form of Elizabeth and Freida's evolving friendship by creating a nasty social media page in Elizabeth's name. Meanwhile, Matthew punches career bully (and richly deserving) Stewart after the hostile boy urinates on his leg. Does Stewart's back story--a disabled sister--explain his behavior? Since it, like Maggie's, is only sketched, not really. More information about the bullies and less about the bystanders would have been welcome. The often blundering attempts of the school administration to intervene are appropriately made light of and the nearly hopeless situations of some victims vividly illustrated, although a few glimmers of hope appear at the conclusion. A thought-provoking and worthy effort on a multifaceted, seemingly all but insurmountable, problem. (Fiction. 9-14)
Publishers Weekly (June 3, 2013)
Baskin (The Summer Before Boys) again offers an on-target portrayal of middle-school angst as she portrays the day-to-day torments of students in a sixth-grade class. In a series of brief vignettes, she moves between classmates including "Smelly-Girl" Elizabeth, who can't shake the lingering scent (or shed hair) of her mother's dog-sitting business; Elizabeth's nemesis, Maggie, who is "used to winning things," but hasn't been able to repair her fallout with her artistically talented former best friend Freida; and Stewart and Matthew, two athletes whose rivalry leads to a fight and a suspension. Although their backgrounds and interests are different, all of Baskin's characters have experienced the pain of humiliation or exclusion in one way or another, and most of them recognize that life was simpler back when the whole class was still invited to birthday parties. Rather than providing tidy, concrete solutions to the characters' dilemmas and the class's pecking order, Baskin delivers an honest message about surviving bad situations and remaining true to oneself and one's friends. Ages 8-12. Agent: Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal (August 1, 2013)
Gr 4-6-Pretty Maggie Carey and her two satellites plague Elizabeth Moon. Their preferred method of cruelty is "advice" in the guise of kindness. The boys in their sixth-grade class have their own nemesis in the form of Stewart Gunderson. The bullying escalates, culminating in Maggie cyberbullying Elizabeth and Stewart urinating on Matthew Berry. Revenge dominates the thoughts of the victims as the middle-school dance approaches. The boys follow through with theirs, but Elizabeth chooses instead to confront Maggie. This is laudable but her gullibility as she falls for yet another fake overture of friendship is frustrating and incredible. Runt is written in a kaleidoscopic manner, including first-person student narratives; third-person scenarios; sundry documents; and, occasionally, outsiders' viewpoints, among them, those of a dog and a public librarian. A few of these asides are unnecessary distractions. The six main characters are complex individuals who defy the usual stereotypes. The students' skirmishes parallel the power struggles among the dogs at Elizabeth's house that are also maneuvering for position and acceptance. As Sadie, the Saint Bernard, states at the end, "I want to know where I belong. Just like you." Overall, Runt is an honest, occasionally humorous portrait of life in the sixth grade, and an additional purchase on the topic of bullying.-Kathy Cherniavsky, Ridgefield Library, CT (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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