Books about Bullying


Good Books for Tough Times 9-12 - BULLYING










The Savage

Author David Almond
Illustrator Dave McKean
Reading age 9+
Interest level 9+

Review This is a fascinating and unusual book, a mixture of straight narrative and story within a story, written by the protagonist, Blue.  His father has recently died and his fury at the taunts of the school bully prompts his increasingly imaginative writings. 

Some teachers might be concerned that the spelling mistakes in Blue’s story would confuse hesitant readers, but that aside, this is a brilliant and memorable evocation of the emotional effects of bereavement and the power of the imagination.

Publisher Walker Books
Published 2009
ISBN 9781406319859

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The Eighteenth Emergency

Author Betsy Byars
Reading age 10+
Interest level 10+

Review Benjie Flowers – known to everyone as Mouse – has done a very silly thing. 

He wrote on a wall that Marv Hammerman, the biggest boy in the school, is Neanderthal.   Now Marv is about to take his revenge – and it’s going to be painful, possibly fatal. 

This is the story of how one small boy confronts and eventually overcomes his worst fear.

Publisher Red Fox

ISBN 9780099408673

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Cloud Busting

Author Malorie Blackman
Reading age 9+
Interest level 9+

Review Narrated in a variety of playful verse forms, Cloud Busting is an exploration of an unlikely friendship between two very different boys. Sam is the Class Bully and he makes Davey, who is imaginative, instinctive – a born poet, in fact – the Class Idiot. But gradually a close relationship develops between them, and the boys become Best Friends – but only in secret.

Sam’s reluctance to acknowledge Davey and to protect him ends badly for both of them.  But in the bittersweet conclusion Sam realises that he has also gained something very precious through knowing Davey.

Publisher Corgi Yearling
Published 2005
ISBN 9780440866152

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How to be Popular

Author Meg Cabot
Reading age 11+
Interest level 11+

Review “Doing a Steph Landry” is a byword for being uncool, ever since Steph spilled the red Super Big Gulp over Lauren’s white D&G miniskirt five entire years ago. So Steph, desperate to be liked, starts fighting back with the help of an old manual: ‘How to be Popular’.

Meg Cabot gets right to the heart of girls’ need to be accepted, and she doesn’t shy away from tackling real family and friendship dilemmas, from embarrassing parents to first love with an old friend. This is a warm, witty and cleverly written book that will appeal to girls of 11 and over.

Publisher Macmillan Children’s Books
Published 2006
ISBN 9780330444064

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Author Roald Dahl
Reading age 9+
Interest level 9+

Review Diminutive Matilda is being bullied by her crooked father, her stupid mother and her ghastly and terrifying headmistress Miss Trunchbull. 

Matilda decides to get her own back.  Her tactics can’t be recommended – Superglueing dad’s hat to his head, stuffing a parrot up the chimney and invoking supernatural powers – but her story will hearten any child who is being bullied.  It’s also guaranteed to make readers of any age laugh out loud. 

A marvellous book.

Publisher Puffin Books
Published 2007
ISBN 9780141322667

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Inventing Elliot

Author Graham Gardner
Reading age 12+
Interest level 12+

Review Elliot hopes that a new school will mean a new start – but there are bullies here too, the mysterious and all-powerful Guardians. 

This is not a comfortable read and is recommended only for older readers, but many boys will identify with Elliot’s struggle to survive in a world of adolescent brutality while remaining true to himself. 

A compelling, affirmative, well-written story, exploring issues of identity, courage and morality.

Publisher Orion Children’s Books
Published 2003
ISBN 9781842552087

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Author Pete Johnson
Reading age 9+
Interest level 10+

Review Gareth’s world falls apart when new boy Jake turns the whole class against him. 

He faces weeks of bullying and rejection, until the memory of his beloved Grandad and his Avenger mask give him new strength.  He overcomes and exposes Jake – but then faces an even tougher challenge. 

This is a highly readable and moving story of friendship, revenge and forgiveness.

Publisher Corgi Yearling
Published 2004
ISBN 9780440864585

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Picking on Percy

Author Catherine MacPhail
Illustrator Karen Donnelly
Reading age 7+
Interest level 9+

Review Shawn is cool.  He’s the best football player in the school and is chased by (almost) all the girls. 

Percy is the smallest boy in the class, wears cheap plastic trainers and has baby food splattered over his blazer.   No wonder Shawn says ‘Picking on Percy is the best fun you can have without a football.’  But then a magic machine makes the boys swap lives, and Shawn discovers what Percy’s life is like. 

This is a story for younger or less able readers, as helpful for bullies as for children who have been bullied.

Publisher Barrington Stoke
Published 2009
ISBN 9781842997956


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Indigo’s Star

Author Hilary McKay
Reading age 9+
Interest level 9+

Review When Indigo returns to school after a long bout of illness he must face up to the bullies he knows will be waiting for him.  He teams up with new boy Tom, who helps him to challenge his own fears, and in turn, Tom finds the warmth in Indigo’s family that he has been missing in his own.

Despite the misleading cover, this is as much a boys’ book as a girls’, with an appealing cast of characters, and it tackles the issue of bullying with warmth and humour.

Publisher Hodder Children’s Books
Published 2004
ISBN 9780340875797

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Author Jacqueline Wilson
Reading age 9-11
Interest level 9-11

Review Beauty thinks her name is silly.  The girls at her posh school call her Ugly, and she and her mother live in constant fear of her irascible and violent father. 

When her lavish birthday party goes horribly wrong, Beauty and her mum leave home.  But where can they go?  And how will they cope on their own? 

Like so many of Jacqueline Wilson’s heroines, Beauty is immensely likeable, and younger girls will identify with her struggles and enjoy her quiet triumphs.

Publisher Corgi Children’s
Published 2009

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