Monday, October 21, 2013

A Book About Bullying: Runt

by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Simon & Schuster
208 pages

Shy and guarded Elizabeth becomes a target for bullying from a group of popular girls led by Maggie. Elizabeth's mother runs a boarding kennel in their home, and Elizabeth always has dog hair on her clothes. Everyone teases her about it, but only Maggie claims that Elizabeth smells. Maggie oversteps the bullying boundaries when she posts a fake web profile of "Smelly-Girl" with Elizabeth's picture.

All of the sixth grade class is having trouble with middle school. The boys have to navigate their way through gym class, sports teams, talking to girls and bullying. Matt has a terrible time and he's kicked out of school when he stands up to a bully. The girls have an equally difficult time. Broken friendships, gossip, cruel taunts and jokes hurt all of them.

Runt will resonate with tween readers. Every tween has doubts and fears. They question themselves and their place in the school.

In Runt, Elizabeth spends so much time with dogs that she sees the "pecking order." There's always an alpha dog and the others let that dog be in charge. Sadly, Elizabeth didn't realize that middle school has a pecking order, too.

The adults in this novel are clueless, and the good kids do nothing to stop mean kids from bullying others. While this surely happens frequently in real life situations, as a middle school librarian, I see more and more students sticking up for the weaker ones or refusing to go along with a bully's taunts and teasing. In some cases, I've seen students quit hanging around with a friend who is a bully.

Around the country, districts and schools have adopted anti-bullying campaigns. Students are aware of bullying and are aware that it will not be tolerated, yet we see the news and are saddened by students who take their own lives--many times as a result of bullying.

Books about bullying are important to allow tweens and teens to see that bullying is (an has been) a fact of life (sad, but true) and that they are not alone.

Recommended for tween readers grade 6 and up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at


  1. Sounds like a great one to have in the collection.
    Sandy, UT

  2. Not sure if I should post here or on your main page, so I'll do both.

    Thank you for the review!

    Vancouver, BC Canada

  3. Yep, middle school is tough.
    Your review is great, as always.
    Yorba Linda, CA

  4. Looks like a good addition to the collection

    Amanda, Academy, TX

  5. She's such a great writer!

    Barb Gogan
    Sudbury (MA) Public Schools
    barbgogan @

  6. Sounds like it could be a promising read.

    Lakeside Junior High School

  7. My school is doing an all school read of Wonder. My students are coming in clamoring for readalikes. This seems right up that alley!

    Ashville Ohio

  8. I would love this for my 6th grade readers!

    Osceola, Iowa

  9. Perfect for my middle school kids!!

    Ephrata PA

  10. Additions to the literature about bullying are always needed.

    Maryville, TN