Reviews for Confessions of a Former Bully

Booklist Reviews 2010 September #1
"Ten-year-old Katie finds herself where no child wants to be, in the principal's office with both her parents. Caught bullying a friend on the school playground, she must meet with the school counselor once a week and figure out how to atone for her actions. As Katie learns more about herself and her options, she keeps a diary-like notebook of reflections and advice as well as facts about physical, emotional, and cyberbullying; why people bully others; and what tools kids can use when they experience or witness bullying. In a style similar to Marissa Moss' Amelia's Notebook series, Katie's notebook features childlike drawings, and cartoons with digital-collage elements combine with boxed facts and quotes to brighten the pages. Although the story may be a vehicle for information, the many children looking for advice on bullying will find this journal more thought-provoking, practical, and readable than many nonfiction books on the subject." Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Continuing from Ludwig's My Secret Bully, this book feels somewhat contrived in its conception: bully Katie must right her wrongs--she thinks her diary of repentance could be a "special book for kids about bullying." Nonetheless, with doodles and the lined-paper look of Marissa Moss's Amelia journals, the book offers solid, accessible information, allowing different responses to bullies based on readers' ages and comfort level. Reading list, websites. Bib. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 July #1

Katie's mean treatment of a classmate results in expectable consequences. She meets with the principal, then weekly with a school counselor to learn more about "bullying behaviors." To make up for the hurt she caused, she turns her journal of those meetings into a book about bullying, narrated in a believable first-person voice. Borrowing design features from the popular Wimpy Kids series—lined paper, doodles and a typeface that imitates hand printing—this surprisingly useful self-help title is clearly aimed at upper-elementary-school readers. Among the "quick facts" Katie quotes (from studies cited in the backmatter) is that 74 percent of eight to 11-year-olds report that bullying occurs in their schools. While Katie used words, body language and silence to bully her friend Monica, she also describes cyber-bullying and physical bullying. Her counselor's six "empower tools" offer excellent responses beyond the well-meant but usually ineffective advice to ignore it, and she explains the difference between tattling—to hurt someone—and reporting—when someone is getting hurt. This fictional cure will resonate with its intended audience. (author's note, recommended resources for adults and children. (Fiction. 8-13)

Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 September #3

Katie, the antagonist of Ludwig's My Secret Bully, is back, this time narrating her own rehabilitation. Drawing on the tropes of the personal journal, the confessional, and the self-help shelf, this illustrated mock-notebook depicts how Katie, now in school-mandated counseling, owns up to her actions, deepens her understanding of "bullying behaviors" ("I used to think of bullying as only being physical"), and learns how to "become a better friend." Ludwig packs a lot of expertise and teachable moments into these pages, which often strains the authenticity of Katie's voice, leaving little sense of her character. An unfortunate reliance on quotes from famous people also prompts responses from Katie like, "Mr. Gandhi sure sounds a lot like my grandma." Adams, a debut illustrator who combines naïf drawings with collage, has the same problems: her pages often feel over-designed and glib. Still, bullies (and maybe victims) will undoubtedly recognize some of their own troubles as they follow Katie's journey. Ages 7-11. (Aug.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 August

Gr 3-6--In a fictional scrapbook, a self-confessed former bully recounts both her own actions as a perpetrator and the steps she took to rectify her behavior. Under the guise of giving an insider's look, Katie provides information about why bullies do what they do and some possible steps that targets and bystanders can take to stand up to them. Meant to offer advice, the insights occasionally feel too adult to be truly accessible to kids, but the language and casual writing style are age appropriate. Despite the moments when Katie's transformation seems too pat and convenient to be believable, the advice is sound and there are specific examples that will be helpful, even if older readers may feel as though they've heard it all before. Jotted notes, doodles, and related quotes are peppered throughout, adding to the scrapbook format. The illustrations are a mix of collage and drawings; they are fun but not particularly noteworthy. Further reading for children and adults, as well as the websites listed at the end of the book, are useful resources.--Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

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