Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bully by Patricia Polacco

I love Patricia Polacco's work.  She is a master at opening conversations through her stories, and she captures important attention on dire issues in her writing. I seek her writing out for me FIRST and my students second (telling, yes?). I know her publications offer us all keen, critical entrances to the tensions of the human condition. Bully is no less than that.

Lyla seeks what every person in the world seeks: to be accepted, and she thinks she has that in the beginning of her middle-school experience. But then her "friends" start some wicked, underhanded means of ugliness, and she meanders the familiar line of what to do when others are not welcomed and she is. This is a familiar storyline, but it continues to be one that we see over and over across the U.S. Reading this story is painful at the very least, and I believe students and young people will want to find their own responses to Polacco's important book-ending questions.

Talking through the ugliness we continue to bring into our lives is never easy, and finding a way to fight back against the shame we in the U.S. create over and over again is relentless and crucially important. Polacco's wisdom in writing this book rises with a different light than in her other books. Sometimes the tensions of a society are carried effectively through a book. I believe Polacco does just that in Bully. I will be honest: this is not an easy read. And, and I know it is important.

We have more work to do.

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