Book Review: The Bully Book

The Bully Book
The Bully Book
By:Eric Kahn Gale 
Published by Harper
Release Date: December 26, 2012
Genre: middle grade mystery
240 pages
Buy it on Amazon, IndieBound
 or Barnes and Noble
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher

I cannot wait to put this book in the hands of my tween. She was asking to read it, having seen it on the end table waiting for me. Now that I've finished reading, I'll be handing it right over to her, and then encouraging her school librarian to order in a few copies- because we'll want this available for kids to read so they know they're not alone in dealing with peer cruelty.

This story is loosely based on events from the author's own 6th grade year. Young Eric finds that, seemingly overnight, he has gone from the perfectly average, normal kid to the target of his whole class' aggression- and he wants to know why. Eric embarks on a grand quest to find out what's going on, and what he uncovers is much bigger than just him and a few mean kids.

As an adult reading this, I was a little concerned about having tweens read this and get ideas about how to succeed in making their peers miserable. I quickly realized that they don't need a book to teach them how to do this; many are already quite adept at it by the time they hit upper elementary age. What we need are books that have a strong message about how to deal with it if it happens to you- and The Bully Book comes through with an encouraging message of self-acceptance.

I have read many of the Wimpy Kid books over my kids' shoulders; the voice of The Bully Book reminds me of that series. I think kids are going to identify strongly with this protagonist, and since this is a pretty quick read, some reluctant readers will be willing to pick it up. I believe Gale has a hit on his hands, and I hope he's planning for a sequel.

Summary from GoodReads:
The rules governing middle school are often a mystery, but for Eric Haskins, they’re a mystery he needs to solve, and fast. He’s a normal, average kid, until sixth grade starts. For some inexplicable reason, the class bully and his pack make Eric the Grunt. Even his best friend since first grade turns on him. Eric can’t figure out why he’s the Grunt until he hears about the Bully Book, a cryptic guide that teaches you how to “make trouble without getting in trouble, rule the school and be the man” and how to select the Grunt-the kid who will become the lowest of the low. 

Eric Haskins may be this year’s Grunt for now, but he’s determined not to stay at the bottom of the social ladder forever. Hilarious and compelling, The Bully Book is a must-read for every tween, tween parent, librarian and educator!


  1. This one sounds like a great read. I don't really read many middle grade novels but this one sounds like one I'll have to check out!
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

  2. My son had to read this one in school. It was his first novel assignment of the year. I have to say, he's been a reader, but this is the first book that has made him emotional. He came in one evening, threw the book at me, and told me I'd have to tell his teacher that he wasn't reading any more. He was so angry he was almost shaking. I told him to take a break and come back to it. (He had already read more than the assignment.) So he went back to his room. He returned 15 minutes later and without looking at me, picked the book up. An hour later, he came back, tears in his eyes, telling me how great the ending was. He couldn't stop talking about it. This book hit home for my 11 year old somewhat awkward middle school son.

  3. Sometimes I avoid bully books, because it's such a painful thing to read about (and it's something really close to me), but I think I'd love to read this one and pass it on to my tween cousins.

    Great review!


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