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Lyla and Jamie are both new to sixth grade. They quickly become close friends. Little do they anticipate that their friendship will be tested and that they will learn what it means to be a scapegoat. In Bully, prolific and beloved author and illustrator Patricia Polacco has created another picture book that speaks the voice of the vulnerable child.

Polacco’s illustrations are a strong support to the story she tells. From the expressions and clothing of the students to classroom and hallway detail and San Francisco landscapes, she sets the story firmly in a time and place.

The bullies in this story live in a world of cell phones, laptops, and Facebook. Theft, message tracing, and suspensions all play a part. Though issues are dealt with and some resolutions are reached, in the end Lyla and Jamie wonder if they should go back to this school in the fall. “What would you do?” they ask.

Bully addresses a relevant topic in a contemporary setting. It offers an opportunity to open conversations with upper elementary and middle school students to the pain and hurt of bullying. Ages 7 and up. (Putnam)

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