25 October 2019 | Uncategorised

‘Bully on the bus’ by Kathryn Apel – review

There’s not too many of us who haven’t faced a bully in school, work, a sporting team, or even a bus. Kathryn Apel’s verse novel is a positive and inspiring story without being preachy – perfect for 6 and 7 year-olds to read with a parent, and fabulous for 8-10 year-olds to read by themselves. It would make an excellent resource for school libraries and classrooms, too.

Young Leroy loves his family, his home and school. But he doesn’t like travelling from his farm to school each day on the bus because DJ, a high-school student at a different school, bullies him. She pinches and prods him, empties his schoolbag, steals his food and calls him names.

Ruby, Leroy’s older sister in grade five, tries to help and stands up to DJ when she notices but often she’s chatting with her friends.

The bus driver, a friendly man who sees his job as delivering children safely to and from school, has to concentrate on the road.

But once Mrs Wilson, Leroy’s teacher, understands what’s going on, she helps Leroy with some tricks and tips and enables him to gather up his bravery. The wonderful resolution shows Leroy figuring it out for himself but with the support of his family, Mrs Wilson and the bus driver.

As this is a verse novel, there’s not too many words so younger readers will feel a big sense of achievement from reading such a ‘thick’ book.

The book is divided into short poems, like the one below. Unfortunately, the wonderful formatting of this poem with every second line indented to emphasise the brevity of each line, did not come through when I typed it –no matter what type of formatting I tried, it wouldn’t save.

Drop Offs

Bus stops
door opens
kids off
goodbye chorus.
Door closes
stories chopped
words flung
through windows.
Bus moves
pulls away
driving off
leaving kids
silent actors
miming words.
On the bus
faces pressed
to the glass
calling out,
‘I can’t hear you!’

And the driver
changing gears
doesn’t hear
doesn’t want to,
in a world
of his own
eyes the road
straight ahead.

Does his job.
Drives the bus.
Drops the kids
home safe.

I was bullied in my mid-twenties at my workplace, and I can identify with Leroy that sinking, stomach-churning feeling of having to walk into the office each morning, not quite knowing what was ahead of me. I look back now and think of many things I could have said and done – even without the type of support Leroy has – but hindsight (and age!) is a wonderful thing.

Anyone else have a bully story to share?


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