CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 15 . . . .March 21, 2008
It is the first day of grade nine, and it is survival of the fittest. William James Reid, aka Will, in the middle of a packed gym full of his new classmates, is on his hands and knees on the gym floor, completely captivated by the path of a single struggling ant. Shane and his group of friends, including Devan, immediately pick up on this social blunder and find their new target. Willís new nickname becomes "Egghead," and his life becomes harder with every run-in with Shane. Katie, who knows Will from the days of relative safety in elementary school, steps in and stands up for Will, risking her own friendships. As the pressure to fit in and survive the harsh social realities of the new high school builds, Katie, Devan, and Will all react in different ways. Katie tries to defend Will and help him deal with the bullying, but she ends up as a target herself. Devan is intrigued by her daring to stand up for such an obvious victim and begins to question Shaneís motives and the reasons for following his lead. Will, who recently lost his mother, continues to pursue his interests and walk into awkward social situations caused by his lack of social understanding and fundamental earnestness.
In Egghead, Pignat explores the sensitive issue of bullying from three different perspectives, weaving the narratives together to give the reader a sense of plot without overdoing any particular scene. Most of the story is told through the eyes of Katie and Devan as the situation escalates from teasing and intimidating to sabotage and physical bullying. Willís contributions are in the form of poetry, expressing both the plot and his emotions in short and succinct form. His love for ants and his and Katieís ongoing ant farm science fair project provides a frame for his interpretations of the high school social situation, as well as an important element of the plot and a symbol of the friendship between Will and Katie.
Pignat isnít necessary criticizing high school teachers but instead is commenting on the limits of adult attention towards bullying. The social world of high school has limited space for the interferences and attentions of teachers, and the issue of bullying needs to be combated from the level of students as well. As Katie exhibits, individual acts of courage against bullying - whether physical, emotional, or verbal Ė can open the eyes of bystanders and change the course of events.
Bryannie Kirk is a student in the Master of Arts in Childrenís Literature at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.