Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Fiction, 2012
Suitable for: Grades 3-5
Theme: Cyberbullying, Friendship, Popularity, Schools
Opening: “It was my first day at my new school. I lived right across the bay from the Golden Gate Bridge now, and it was beautiful to look at, but it wasn’t home yet, and I dreaded going to school. I missed my old school — and all my friends. My stomach was churning and my heart was pounding out of my chest.”
Synopsis: Lyla quickly makes friends with Jamie. They eat lunch together and watch sci-fi movies on Fridays. Jamie is also computer savvy and helps Lyla set up a Facebook page on her computer. Lyla makes the cheerleading squad and wins some awards at school. The popular girls take note of her and invite her into their group. Lyla begins to pays less attention to Jamie. But, when Lyla watches her new friend Gage surf the computer to leave nasty and hurtful remarks on the Facebook pages of targeted classmates, including Jamie. Lyla drops out of their group and hangs out with Jamie. This clique of girls is mean. When Lyla musters the courage to stand up to Gage about her bullying behavior towards Jamie and other kids, the girls take revenge. Lyla finds herself the target of an even bigger cyberbullying scheme.
Why I like this book: This is the first picture book I’ve seen for older kids that deals with cyberbullying. Patricia Polacco has written a much-needed book on such an important topic. It is an excellent book that escalates when the cheerleaders take revenge and steal achievement tests. But, Polacco is crafty in her judgement to let the students solve the problem on their own, with Jamie’s superb computer skills. Polacco talks about bullying in a note to her readers at the end. “I myself was a victim of teasing because of my learning disabilities. In my case, this involved only a few other children. But if e-mail, text messaging, blogging, and tweeting had existed in my time, I would have felt the entire world scrutinizing and passing judgment on me. I wrote this book on behalf of children everywhere.”
Resources: This is a great discussion book for the classroom. Check out the National Bullying Prevention Center. They have a special site for kids and teens to join against bullying. Click here to visit Patricia Polacco’s website.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.