The kids at Ralph Bunche Middle School love to pick on Elliot Kravitz-Carnucci. He struggles with his weight, looks like a geek, makes top honors, and lives above the Carnucci Home for Funerals in South Philadelphia with his distant, workaholic father and Nonna, his quirky, overbearing grandmother.
Since his parents divorced, he splits spending his time with his funeral director father and his mother Rayna, who dreams of becoming the queen of commercials on the west coast.
At the hands of his peers, Elliot experiences a series of bullying episodes that escalate from entrapment in a school supply closet to a brutal “swirly” (head dunk in the toilet) that lands him in the hospital emergency room.
Elliot has a small circle of loyal friends and a mentor named Duke, an aging school custodian, who root for him to overcome his bullying issues so that he can enjoy his life as a teenager and a budding singer/performer. Can Elliot win his fight against the nasty bullies, or is he doomed forever? Read this funny, sad, and crazy book to find out.
Read an Excerpt:
What were they planning to do to me? Had they all gone over the edge? I tried to scream, but all that came out from under the gag was Mmmmmmmmm.**My thoughts**
Most of the teachers and staff had already left to get an early start on spring break. Duke was probably somewhere in the building, though, giving the place a final once over before locking up. His doctor had told him to slow down after the tests proved he had lung cancer, but it only made him work longer hours.
Kyle slammed me on the back. “Tell you what, promise not to open your mouth and I’ll take the gag off.”
I nodded yes like my head was going to roll off.
He untied the gag, and I heaved in a gulp of air.
“We don’t want you to suffocate when your head hits the water.”
Were they going to throw me in the river? Drown me? Could they be that crazy?
I tried to make a run for it, but Kyle caught me before I could make it to the door. His biceps bulged like baseballs from his lean arms. How I wished I’d added weight lifting to my fitness routine.
Canfield looked at his friends. “Part of the fun is the anticipation. Right, guys?”
Why couldn’t they look at me?
I heard on the news that when you’re threatened if you call a person by name, maybe he’ll act more human and be less likely to hurt you. Was it worth a try?
“Kyle, you don’t want to do this…”
Bullying truly is a bigger problem today, than it used to be. Yes, it existed when we were kids, but nowadays kids have even nastier means of spreading their hatred and jealousy of others. This book encompasses a lot of the characters who would have been present when we were kids, as well as the modern day cast. You have the fat kid on who everyone picks. The bullying ringleader knows how to charm his way out of trouble and doesn't seem to learn from when he gets in trouble. Adults are so charmed that they don't seem to take the bullying seriously enough. They go after the kid being bullied, telling him that he needs to change, but don't focus enough on those who need to change their nasty ways. There are a few staff members who seem to catch on. Usually it is the custodian and other support staff who truly know every child in the school and what exactly is going on. And it always seems to take a massive event to finally get the wheels moving to curb the attacks.
I found myself getting angry. I was mad at Elliot for not speaking up for himself (though I totally understand why he didn't). I was mad at the administration for telling him that *HE* needed to change. I was mad at them for not doing enough to protect Elliot. I was mad at Elliot's parents for being so wrapped up in their own worlds that they didn't see what was going on with their son. I was mad at his grandmother for not following through on protecting her grandson. And, of course, I was mad at the kids doing the bullying.
At the same time, I was grateful for the hope. Hope in the adults who are actually paying attention to what is going on with these kids. Hope in Elliot who does try to find strength within himself. Hope in the school staff who tries to help. Hope in the other kids who do try to stand up for what is right. Hope that maybe someone who reads this book will be inspired to create some hope for at least one bullied kid.
As a teacher, I am reminded to be extra vigilant in my care of the children in my class and in teaching them to be respectful to others. If I were using this in an older classroom, I think it would be a great conversation starter about how to recognize bullying and what to do about it.
All in all, it was an interesting read. I felt like the end was rushed a bit. The bulk of the important stuff was in the beginning and the middle. I would be curious to find out how Elliot fares in the future.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Catherine DePino has sold thirteen books for parents, teachers, and children to mainstream publishers. She self-published her fourteenth book, Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser: A Book About Bullying because she wanted to give it a wider forum. Her background includes a BS in English and Spanish education, a Master’s in English education, and a doctorate in Curriculum Theory and Development and Educational Administration from Temple University. The author worked for many years as an English teacher, department head of English and world languages, disciplinarian, and curriculum writer in the Philadelphia School District. After this, she worked at Temple as an adjunct assistant professor and student teaching supervisor.
Catherine has also written articles for national magazines, including The Christian Science Monitor and The Writer.
For many years she served on the board of The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. She holds membership in the Association of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Her new self-help book, 101 Easy Ways for Women to De-Stress, Reinvent, and Fire Up Your Life in Retirement,appeared on the market in March, 2014.
Visit her website at http://catherinedepino.com
Fire Up Your Life: 101 Ways for Women to Reinvent Themselves
Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser: A Book About Bullying
Excuse Me, Your Participle’s Dangling: How to Use Grammar to Make Your Writing Powers Soar
Who Says Bullies Rule?: Common Sense Tips to Help Your Child Cope
Hi, God, It’s Me: e-prayers for teenage girls
Real Life Bully Prevention for Real Kids
In Your Face, Pizza Face: A Girl’s Bully-Busting Book
101 Ways to Help Preschoolers Excel in Reading, Writing, and Speaking
Quick and Easy Grammar Games to Boost Writing Power
Blue Cheese Breath and Stinky Feet: How to Deal with Bullies
Hi, God, It’s Me: e-prayers for Teenage Boys
Ready, Get Set, Go, Grammar!
Grammar Workout: Twenty-Eight Lessons, Exercises, and Activities to Jumpstart Your Writing
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