Pleasant Diversion But Lacking a Realistic Solution: How to Outplay a Bully

Posted on April 16th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart in Anti-Bullying Children's Books

Storytime Standouts looks at an anti-bullying chapter book, How to Outplay a BullyHow to Outplay a Bully – written by Nancy Wilcox Richards and illustrated by David Sourwine
Anti bullying chapter book published by Scholastic Canada

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“I sat down on the bench next to him. He didn’t even look at me. but I was so mad I had to say something. “Why didn’t you pass the puck?” I yelled. “I could have scored! I was right in front of the open net.”

When a new adult moves into his neighborhood, Tony Dunphy has an opportunity to learn hockey skills from him. When the neighbor tells Tony’s mom about a used hockey equipment store, Tony is very excited to get hockey equipment and join the Bayfield Blazers Hockey Team partway through the season. Unfortunately, it is not long until Berk, the team bully notices Tony’s well-worn gear and chooses Tony as his victim. Berk is relentless with his verbal and physical abuse of Tony. He calls him ‘Tony Baloney’ and makes life miserable on the ice and in the dressing room. Tony is the only player excluded from the team chant. When the two boys become linemates, Tony is frustrated when Berk won’t pass to him.

The Bayfield Blazers’ coach is aware that his team is not getting along well. He knows that some of his players need to learn about good sportsmanship so he arranges for a NHL player so visit the team. Tony is shocked when his neighbor is introduced. He has no idea that his neighbour is former NHL player, Bob MacMillan. With a message that ‘Success is about more than winning. Good sports are winners,” Bobby encourages the entire team to make better choices.

How to Outplay a Bully is a fun read for young hockey players. Having said that, I am concerned that How to Outplay a Bully relies on a ‘magical solution’ to solve the problem of bullying. Rather than have Tony seek and obtain help from an adult (his mom or his coach) or his teammates (the ‘bystanders”), he is essentially forced to cope with the bullying throughout half a season of hockey. The problem is really only resolved when the Bully discovers that Tony has a friend who used to play in the NHL. In my opinion, this story will be a pleasant diversion for a young hockey player but it will not help a youngster dealing with a bully.

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