________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 3 . . . .September 28, 2007


Choose Your Bully. (HIP-JR).

Lori Jamison.
Toronto, ON: High Interest Publishing, 2005.
65 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-897039-15-8.

Subject Headings:
Bullying-Juvenile fiction.
Problem solving-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Ellie Contursi.

*** /4



We all have problems. Some kids think they're too tall. Or they're too short. Or their feet are way too big. Or they forget their homework too much. My friend Richard has a funny problem. He's too rich. Richard's problem begins with his name. He's been called Richie Rich for years. Kids say, "Oh, look, there's Richie Rich." Then all the other kids laugh. My friend would say, "My name is Richard," and they'd all laugh again.

Of course, Richard does not have any money himself. His parents are rich... But Richard doesn't get much spending money. His parents tell him that he has to learn "the value of money."

Richard and I have one problem in common. Our problem is a bully -- and his name is Chuck. Chuck has been taking our money for lunches for months.


Richard and Ling are close friends who have known each other since they were toddlers. Richard comes from a well-to-do family, and so all of his classmates think that he has money to burn. We quickly learn that this is not the case. Richard's parents do not give him much money to spend and want him to "learn the value of money" instead of having it handed to him on a silver platter. Even though Richard is a rich kid, life is not easy for him because he has a bully problem. A 13-year-old student named Chuck constantly steals whatever money Richard and Ling have as they walk to school together. Richard never stands up for himself but easily gives in to Chuck's demands each time. Ling tries to defend both Richard and herself, but, because of Chuck's size, she can't win. Ling encourages Richard to stick up for himself and refuse to give Chuck his money, but Richard is too afraid. Ling decides they need to come up with a plan to end this bullying. The plan is to look for someone who could protect them from Chuck, someone bigger and older. For the right price, they could use him as a sort of bodyguard. When they find the right student, it works like a charm. Chuck is frightened off by a meaner, tougher kid and doesn't bother them any more. However, this new tough guy wants to remain on the payroll and continue to 'protect' Richard and Ling for a fee each week. Matters become out of hand. Ling comes up with yet another scheme to get them out of this mess. This time, the plan lands Richard and Ling in the office, and the truth about the bullying comes out.

     Choose your Bully is an easy-to-read fictional account of bullying that can occur in any typical school situation. Readers can sympathize with the main characters and their hesitation to involve teachers or adults when the bullying begins and as it continues through the story. In the chapter that includes possible solutions to bullying, teacher/adult involvement is mentioned, but the main characters decide against it. The reader feels relief when adults in the story finally gain knowledge of the bullying that has been going on at school. The flavour of this story is not preachy; however, a bit more emphasis on the right thing to do about bullying would be appropriate. The ending is quite abrupt and unsatisfying.

Recommended with reservations.

Ellie Contursi is a librarian in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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