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Many of you may be aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. I was blessed to receive this wonderful book, Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt, and I thought this would be the perfect time to shine the spotlight on this well-written tale of bullying and learning from our mistakes.
Kevin Jamison rules the school as a big, mean bully. The beginning of his poetry journal talks about all the kids he picks on—Giant John, Freckle-Faced Kelly, Harry (his teacher’s mole). His parents are doctors, and even though they make a lot of money, Kevin does not consider himself rich. No one notices that he exists, and when they do, it’s only to acknowledge his mistakes. He has four brother’s, and he is the “mistake baby.” So this complicated middle-schooler takes his frustration out through poetry. He has a talent for picking out words in pages of books and turning them into unique poems.
However, when his older brother Petey throws his poetry journal out of the car window on the way to school, Kevin’s position as king of the school takes a downward spiral. One of the boys that he bullies, Robin, finds the notebook and begins to copy pages of poems and secrets for the whole school to see. Kevin switches from bully to bullied. The school begins to torture him; Robin wants to become the poet bandit—ripping pages out of books and creating poems to post around the school—but he wants Kevin to create them. Blackmailed by his poetry journal of secrets, Kevin has no choice but to submit to Robin, which eventually leads to him getting caught. Once Kevin sinks into his darkest place, a few faithful friends who can see past his rock hard outer shell pull him back into the light by recognizing his unique poetry talent. His librarian forces his family to see his talent, which in turn allows him to find faith in himself. Once he finds faith in himself, life only shoots up from there.
I have never read any story of this sort—a story written in verse. I love the fact that Kevin’s poetry inches slowly from words in short lines to actual, rhyming poetry I did not think I’d like it, since I’m not a huge poetry fan, but this story was wonderful. K.A. Holt tells a wonderful story of a bully turning into the bullied. We see the outside forces that go into bullying and how hard it is for middle-grade children to deal with this sort of pain.
Bullying is a much larger problem than people make it out to be nowadays. Whether it is mean comments, physical abuse, blackmail….bullying is problem that needs to be addressed. Encourage children to speak up for themselves and their friends if they are being victimized. If they don’t feel like they can speak, show them different ways to share what is happening to them—like Kevin’s journal.
While Holt’s simplistic plot resolves a bit too neatly, this transformative tale offers important lessons for all persuasions of middle graders, whether bullies or targets, complicit or horrified bystanders.–Kirkus Reviews
Grab your copy of Rhyme Schemer HERE.
Something To Do
This is basically the type of poetry that Kevin composed, except with this, we are not going to deface books—because that is just wrong. With chance poetry. You have a pile of random, set words, and you are allowed to put the words in any order they want. Watch amazing poetry appear before your eyes!
2. Convert Old Books into Personal Journals: Run to Radiance
3. Host a Poetry Reading
- Invite your friends and have them bring some of their favorite prose with
- Make Coffee (Decaf for our young, aspiring poets)
- Have muffins, scones, and other goodies
- Have fun!
4. How Bullying Feels: This is a very compelling video from Pacer.org that I highly recommend families watch together.
What bullying resources would you like to share?
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*JIAB received this book to review. These opinions and reviews are our own.