Category Archives: Bullying

Books that discuss the nature of bullying and being bullied.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker, #1)

Bibliographic information: Ship Breaker. Paolo Bacigalupi. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010. $17.99. 326p. ISBN-13:  9780316056212.
Summary: Nailer works as a scavenger for copper wiring on beached oil tankers. He spends his days climbing through poisonous dangerous crawl spaces to make a little money to survive because his violent drug addicted father is not use. One day he ends up falling into an oil well in the tanker he was stripping and gets stuck. When his work buddy finds him, she leaves him there to die in hopes that she can claim the oil for herself and get rich. Nailer apparently has a lucky side and finds a way out by breaking through the oil well door and landing in the ocean, oddly enough, in one piece. This means he doesn’t get to claim the oil, his boss does, but at least he is still alive and the work buddy who left him behind is shunned away. Not long after that there is a huge storm that lands a lot of beached ships on their shore. Nailer finds a beached clipper ship with a sole survivor, a girl about his age. Now Nailer has to decide whether he is going to kill the girl and strip the ship or save the girl and potentially gain a new life. It all depends on whether he can trust the girl or not.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 7 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Winner of the Printz Book Award for 2011 as well as Notable Children’s Books, Best Fiction for Young Adults, and Children’s Books of the Year. This young adult dystopian novel is a little different from what you may be used to. The characters of this story are complex, but incredibly realistic and loyalty is one of their main attributes. Nailer is struggling to survive in a dystopian society based solely on harvesting goods from beached oil tankers. He puts himself at risk each day so that he can make a little money to live from. When he is faced with a difficult decision, his conscience wins out and he can only hope it was the right choice, but it does bring him on a life changing journey that will only add to his character. Morals seem to be fickle things in this story and Nailer seems to have the brunt of them. This trilling adventure will captivate the minds of teen readers and pull them into a vivid world of brutality and hardship that will keep their attention all the way through.
Readers’ annotation: After a huge storm blows through, Nailer is left with a choice of life or death. And it all hinges on a girl he found.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book shows teens that there are other young adults in the world that are struggling through life and that they are not alone in their struggles. Also, of all the characters Nailer sets some great morals for children to follow.
Issues present: This book kind of reminds me of Lord of the Flies where everybody is just brutal savages and everybody is out save themselves and nobody else. Parents and even teacher might object to the blatant violence and savagery in this book. However, the real world is brutal and savage, maybe not as much as in this book, but it will prepare kids for the real world and make them less afraid.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Nailer’s character.
If you had to choose between money or saving a girl’s life who could potentially kill you, what would you do?
Genre or subject: Science fiction: dystopian, toxic parent
Readalikes:  Ashfall, Tankborn, Uglies, The House of the Scorpion, The Hunger Games
Author’s website:
Awards: National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (2010), Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book (2011), Romantic Times (RT) Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy Novel (2010), Cybils Award Nominee for Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2010), Printz Award (2011) YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2011), Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of the Year for Fiction (2010), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013), Andre Norton Award Nominee for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy (2010)
Reviews:  Booklist:; School Library Journal:; Publisher’s Weekly:; Kirkus Review:
Why I chose it: This book was recommended to me by a friend and the concept sounded intriguing so I gave it a go.


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Filed under Anger/Violence, Bullying, Death, Dystopias, Toxic parents and teachers

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

The Outsiders

Bibliographic information: The Outsiders. S. E. Hinton. Speak, 1967. $8.99. 192p. ISBN-13:  9780140385724.
Summary: Three brothers, Ponyboy, Darry, and Sodapop, are trying to survive on their own after their parents’ death. Ponyboy is a member of the Greasers gang and their rivals are the Socs. When leaving a movie theater one night Ponyboy is jumped by the Socs and his older brothers, Darry and Sodapop, save him. However, the next night Ponyboy and his friends meet up with a couple of girls associated with the Socs at the drive-in. They realize that the girls are nothing like the Socs and offer to walk them home, but Bob and Randy from the Socs gang run into them. The girls willingly leave with Bob and Randy to prevent a fight, but when Ponyboy gets home late Darry hits him. So, Ponyboy runs away and meets up with his friend Johnny and things start to go downhill from there.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 8 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: This is a classic that all teens should read. A coming of age story for a group of boys trying to survive on their own in a dangerous neighborhood. Two gangs who are rivals are at constant end with each other and even when their friends get hurt of killed they keep going at each others throats. Even though things get worst for Ponyboy when he runs away, he discovers that his brothers really care about him and he tries harder. Hinton’s writing is fluid and mesmerizing, you get pulled into the story and feel for the characters, especially Ponyboy. Overcoming so many hardships and working towards a better life, Ponyboy is a strong-willed character. Step into the shoes of Ponyboy and read The Outsiders.
Readers’ annotation: Two rival gangs, the Greasers and the Socs, fighting over the same turf and Ponyboy, a Greaser, is just trying to survive.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This is a great coming-of-age story that shows a strong-willed boy who will fight to overcome his hardships and this will encourage coming-to-age teens to fight to overcome their hardships. Also, the realistic characters and situations in the book will speak to teens who are in similar situations and lend them a coping mechanism.
Issues present: The strong presence of gang violence, alcohol and drug use, and guns in this novel make it objectionable, especially by parents and teachers. However, this book shows how somebody put into a hard situation can overcome those hardships, this will encourage young adults to do the same.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Ponyboy’s character.
Talk about gang wars.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: gangs, violence
Readalikes:  Getting the Girl, Feels Like Home, Breaking Rank, We All Fall Down
Author’s website:
Awards: Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Secondary (1991); Oprah’s Kids’ Reading Lists – Classics: 12 Years and Up; Virginia Readers’ Choice Award: High School (Grades 10-12)
Why I chose it: This is a classic challenged book that almost every teen ends up reading because it is part of the school reading list. I thought it would be a great addition to my collection.

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Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Bibliographic information: Divergent. Veronica Roth. Katherine Tegen Books, 2011. $17.99. 487p. ISBN-13:  9780062024022.
Summary: Beatrice lives in Chicago, but a Chicago that is divided into 5 factions. The factions were chosen because people could not agree on how to live their lives and much fighting took place, so each factions chose a certain aspect of the human personality to follow: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). She was born into the Abnegnation, however when each child reaches the age of 16 they get to choose which faction they wish to be a part of. Choosing another faction than the one you are born into means giving up everything in your current life, your family, your friends, and even your name. Beatrice is now 16 and she must choose her future.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: In a futuristic world where Chicago is split into 5 distinct factions, Beatrice is at the age where she must choose which faction to be a part of. Written in the first person viewpoint, Beatrice, finds her life filled with action, excitement and danger. Leaving her old life behind she begins her journey to find out who she really is. Roth has no regard for her characters and is ruthless enough that readers should not get attached to any one character. This dystopian novel will attract attention of The Hunger Games fans.
Readers’ annotation: She gave up her name, her family, her friends to be somebody else. Does she know who she is? Who is she really?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book can be used by teens to fight their fears. It covers several aspects that will give them perspective and understanding into their fears that are taking place in their lives. Having a character that is able to persevere even in hard times will encourage teens to continue to persevere in their lives. Also, Tris had to decide for herself what she was going to do with her life and when young adults read this book they will be able to understand that they are reaching the age where they are going to have to choose for themselves as well. Going off to college, picking a career, etc.
Issues present:There is a good amount of violence and the casual use of guns that people might object to. But people have to understand that there is violence and the casual use of guns in the real world. This book is giving them exposure so that they are not as surprised or frightened.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Beatrice’s “Tris” character.
Five factions, one choice.
Pg. 47 starting with “Marcus offers me my knife…” until the end of the page. – her choice is made.
Genre or subject: Science fiction: dystopian
Readalikes:  The Hunger Game, The Maze Runner, The Line, The Giver, Delirium, Ship Breaker, Matched, Possession, Bumped
Author’s website:
Awards: Goodreads Choice Award for Favorite Book of 2011 and for Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2011), ALA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee (2012), Children’s Choice Book Award Nominee for Teen Choice Book of the Year (2012), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014), DABWAHA (Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hella Authors) for Best Young Adult Romance (2012)
Reviews: Booklist:; School Library Journal:; Publisher’s Weekly:; Kirkus Reviews:
Why I chose it: Everybody told me to read this, so I did. They said that is was a great dystopian book and I am inclined to believe them.

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Filed under Anger/Violence, Bullying, Death, Dystopias, Toxic parents and teachers

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One

Bibliographic information: The Chosen One. Carol Lynch Williams. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009. $16.95. 213p. ISBN-13:  9780312555115.
Summary: Kyra is a 13-year-old girl who lives in a polygamist community, she has three mothers, one is her biological mother and the other two are considered sister mothers, they are her father’s other wives. Among the three mothers they have produced 20 brothers and sisters for Kyra. Kyra loves her family very much, and is one of the few things holding her back from leaving. Joshua, a friend from another family, has taken an interest in Kyra, who in turn starts to like Joshua. However, the Prophet, who views himself as the son of God, has “seen” Kyra and her Uncle Hyrum getting married, and so they shall. Kyra does not wish to marry her 60-year-old uncle who already has six wives. Joshua says he will marry her instead, but he is kicked out of the community and left to fend for himself out in the desert. Kyra discovers a bookmobile, owned by Patrick, that drives by the community and has taken to reading forbidden books to help her cope and gain a little enjoyment out of life. Finally fed up with her situation Patrick attempts to help Kyra escape the community and her fate of marrying her much older uncle. There escape fails, Kyra is sent back to the community to be punished and Patrick goes missing. In the night Kyra is finally able to escape and is helped by the local authorities from the nearby town.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: Written through the first person viewpoint of Kyra, the protagonist, this book tells a story that of a little girl’s life in a polygamist community. We get to see her life in the present with occasional flashbacks into her past to help support her story and give the reader an understanding of why she feels she needs to leave the community. Williams wonderfully expresses her characters so that they feel real enough to be your friend. Unlike a lot of books on cults Williams paints a picture that portrays many aspects of the cult community, rather than stating it is bad. A lot of research went into creating this title. A great read that will leave you wanting more.
Readers’ annotation: Forced to marry her 60-year-old uncle, Kyra has decided it is time to try to escape her community. With the help of the trusty Bookmobile, will she make it?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Williams does a great job of highlighting Kyra’s feelings and portraying her character so that you can feel what she is going through. This helps the reader to understand that they are not alone in their problems and that there are out there facing the same issues. Having somebody else tell their story will bring light and encourage others to tell their stories.  Also, teens in an analogous situation would be able to relate to Kyra’s situation and not feel so isolated. They will understand that other teens are living with the same harsh conditions and this might encourage them to speak out about their own situation and seek help.
Issues present: This title lends insight into the many aspects that can be found in polygamist communities. A lot of the time you will hear only about the bad that comes with being in such a community, but they are not always just bad. A lot of the time they have a fear of leaving, they don’t want to leave their families that they love, they feel guilt over sinning, and they have a wish to belong. We all have one or more of these feelings in any place of living. This could lead to a great discussion on tolerance and different lifestyles. This book provides  the reader background to a difference in opinion when it comes to religious views. Not everybody practices the same beliefs and it is important to understand that there are many religious views out there, even if some may be more extreme than others.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Kyra’s character.
Pg. 1 the first line. Really catches the reader’s attention.
Pg. 26 second section, the full one – describes the marriage situations.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: religion, polygamy, manipulation
Readalikes:  Wither, Sister Wife, Keep Sweet, The Rag and Bone Shop
Author’s website:
Awards: An ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2010), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee (2011), TAYSHAS High School Reading List (2010), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2009), Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2010) Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013)
Reviews: School Library Journal:; Publisher’s Weekly:; Kirkus Reviews:
Why I chose it: I have never read a book about polygamy before and find the topic quite interesting so I thought I would give this book a go.

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Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List

Bibliographic information: Hate List. Jennifer Brown. Little, Brown and Co, 2009. $16.99. 408p. ISBN-13:  9780316041447.
Summary: Valerie created a Hate List. On the Hate List was the names of all the thing she disliked: people, homework projects, situations, etc. Her boyfriend, Nick decided to help with the Hate List and added the things he hated to it as well. After meeting a new friend, Nick started acting weird and decided to take action to end some of the things he hated with a gun. Valerie was just as surprised as everybody else and to stop Nick from hurting anybody else she threw herself on top of him and, consequently, was shot in the leg. He proceeded to shoot himself in the head. Now that school has started up again and Valerie must go back, she is apprehensive about the reaction she is going to get from her fellow classmates since some see her as a suspect int he shooting, some as a victim, and some as a hero.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 8 and up IL: age 15 and up
Review: This riveting title will hook you from page one and move you to tears. This story is heart-breakingly sad, but has just the right amount of hope thrown in to keep the reader interested. Brown has captured the tragedy of a school shooting accurately and well. Written in the first person view-point of our protagonist, Valerie, this book jumps from the present to the past and is sprinkled with article clippings to add to the real-life effect. The characters are real and young adults will be able to relate to both the characters and the situation. Highly recommended to parents, teachers, and students alike.
Readers’ annotation: The Hate List has the names of everything and everybody that Valerie hated. Her boyfriend decided to bring a gun to school to end some of those names.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book will be able to lend support for any young adult who went through a similar situation. They will know that they are not alone. Even if somebody did not directly go through the same situation, teens will be able to use this book as a tool to show them the effects of bullying and how much others are hurt by it.
Issues present: There is a school shooting that takes place in this novel and people might object to it because they do not want young adults to read this book and either be afraid that it could happen to them or be exposed to the violent nature of it and get any ideas about duplicating the situation. However, people need to realize that this is a very real situation and it will help teens better understand such issues, it will not encourage them to take such actions. The message of the book is pretty clean that shooting up a school is not the way to solve your problems.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Valerie’s character.
Pg. 97 to end of first paragraph on 98. – describes start of shooting.
Pg. 103 starting with “Oh my God, I thought…” to end of first paragraph on 104. – describes Valerie’s heroics.
Passages from pages 97-105 – describes the shooting.
Genre or subject:Realistic fiction: school shooting, death
Readalikes: Give a Boy a Gun, Endgame, Shooter, Just Another Hero
Author’s website:
Awards: School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award (2010), The White Ravens (2010), Voya Perfect Ten (2009), ALA Best Books for Young Adults. for Young Adults Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014), Louisiana Teen Readers Choice Award, Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award (2012)
Reviews: Booklist:; School Library Journal:; Publisher’s Weekly:; Kirkus Review:
Why I chose it: I was still in grade school when the Columbine school shooting happened and I thought it would be interesting to read about a school shooting.

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A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time (Time, #1)

Bibliographic information: A Wrinkle in Time. Madeline L’Engle. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1962. $6.99. 211p. ISBN-13:  9780312367541.
Summary:  Meg Murry is seen as a troublesome kid by her classmates and her teachers, but her parents she her as a little girl capable of great things. Her mother and father are scientist, her twin ten-year old bothers are athletes, and her five-year old brother, Charles Wallace, is a genius, however, her father is missing in action. One dark and stormy night, the Murry’s are visited by a Mrs. Whatsit, who comes in to dry her feet. Mrs. Whatsit tells Mrs. Murry that the “tesseract” is real, causing her to almost faint with disbelief. The next day Meg discovers the tesseract is a scientific concept that her father was working with before he went missing. Meg, Charles Wallace, and a friend, Calvin, venture out to hopefully find Meg’s father.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 10 and up IL: age 9 and up
Review: This beautifully written novel is the winner of the Newbery Medal of 1963, among other awards and nominees. Meg Murry, Charles Wallace Murry, and Calvin O’Keefe are wonderful characters that grow and evolve throughout the book. They are brave, intelligent, and sincere characters that can either stand alone or work as a group. The worlds L’Engle has created are artfully crafted from elements of fantasy and science fiction the mingle into a whole new experience that will keep your mind reeling from beginning to end. Children will love the adventure and creative creatures who inhabit the various planets Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin visit. The adventure doesn’t end here, look for the sequels.
Readers’ annotation: Her father has gone missing and now Meg must travel through time and space to find him. What kinds of creatures will she meet on her travels?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book sends the message that if you put your mind to it, you can overcome any obstacle. Meg leads us on a quest of finding out who she is and how she can help others in the world. She started out not able to focus with her studies, but turned out to be able to focus her skills she did have and use them productively. Teens who have trouble focusing in school will see this character and be able to understand that they are not alone, others have the same problem, but there are ways to get passed it.
Issues present: This book has been challenges countless times since it was published in 1962. People thought that it was not appropriate for the age group. There is some violence and even some manipulation. Also, people either felt that it was overtly religious or anti-religious depending on how you looked at it. And the supernatural creatures were seen as satanic. Children are very resilient and a book like this opens the imagination and helps them cope with parts of their lives that they have a hard time explaining.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace’s characters.
Talk about travel through time and space.
A land of many creatures…
Genre or subject: Science fiction and fantasy: supernatural monsters, religion
Readalikes: The Golden Compass, The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland
Author’s website:
Awards: Newbery Medal (1963), Sequoyah Book Award (1965)
Reviews:  Kirkus Reviews:
Why I chose it: This book is a classic and has been challenged many times over the years. It is a great addition to anybody’s collection.

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The Line by Teri Hall

The Line (The Line, #1)

Bibliographic information: The Line. Terri Hall. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2010. $16.99. 224p. ISBN-13:  9780803734661.
Summary:  Rachel lives with her mother on The Property owned by Ms. Moore, who grows and sells orchids for a living. The Property skirts the Line, put in place by the government after an atomic attack on the Unified States. The Line acts as the border between Away, a place where nobody is allowed to come or go, and the Unified States. The Line is patrolled by guards at all times, except out at The Property because nobody really visits there. Rachel thought she was safe living at Ms. Moore’s estate, but she couldn’t be more wrong. After going into town with her mother and witnessing an Identification she discovers the truth about her mother and father’s past. She then finds a recorded message next to the Line asking for help. Now she is left with an incredibly hard decision to make and she must make it fast to survive herself and help others.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 7 and up IL: age 12 and up
Review: This is a wonderfully captivating book that will keep you wanting more. After discovering some horrible information from her parents’ past, Rachel is faced with the decision of her life. She must decide if she should cross the Line, an invisible border between Away and the Unified States. Nobody enters Away and nobody comes back from it, there are a lot of horror stories circulating about Away. Rachel is both frightened and interested in what she will find in Away. Hall had me hooked from the beginning. She adequately captures a normal teenager who is then faced with a troubling decision. Her straightforward language of a teenager will help young readers get interested in the science fiction genre. And when they reach the cliff-hanger at the end they won’t be able to wait for the next book.
Readers’ annotation: Nobody is allowed to cross the Line. Nobody knows what is on the other side of the Line. Some say dangerous creatures lurk out there. Rachel is about to find out what nobody else knows.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book has the fear of the unknown. A lot of children fear what is unknown and this book is a great way for them to gain a little experience and perspective on the subject so that they may be less afraid after reading it.
Issues present: This book portrays the government as bad and corrupt and there is a fair amount of violence. Also, there is mention of people who have special powers and they are considered evil and dangerous. People may see these as things that children should avoid. People do not want their children reading about corrupt governments and violence, and some religious people would feel strongly about people having powers. However, they need to understand that children already understand about corruption and that violence is a real part of the world. Also, they understand that this book is fiction and people really do not have any special powers.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Rachel’s character.
Talk about the fear of the unknown.
Genre or subject: Science fiction: dystopian
Readalikes:  The Giver, Possession, Crossed, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Ship Breaker
Author’s website:
Awards: Children’s Choice Book Award (2011), YALSA Best Fiction Nominee for Young Adults (2011), YALSA Quick Pick Nominee for Reluctant Readers
Reviews:  School Library Journal:; Booklist:; Publisher’s Weekly:; Kirkus Review:
Why I chose it: This book looked incredibly interesting and it seemed like a nice twist on the dystopian genre.

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Filed under Anger/Violence, Bullying, Death, Dystopias, Supernatual monsters