Max is an unreliable, sarcastic narrator. He thinks that just because he doesn’t physically hit anyone, he’s not really a bully. Max’s idea of a good time is picking on Triffin Nordstrom, or Nerdstrom as Max’s renamed him. But Max’s teasing goes too far causing Triffin’s mother and Max’s parents to form an alliance. Their concocted plan is twofold: educate Triffin in social skills while Max gets help with his slumping math scores. And even though Triffin may be a loner, he’s none-too-thrilled to hang with Max. This comes as a great shock to the ever-popular Max.
Author James Roy does several unique and successful things with Max Quigley, Technically Not a Bully. He molds a character, one that could easily come off as unlikable, into a relatable, even if unreliable, voice. He sets the tale in Australia, which provides American readers a chance to learn some fantastic Aussie speak (Mum, mate, cheeky). He keeps the moralizing in check with short chapters, realistic dialogue and lessons learned through actions rather than telling. When Max begins to slide in the direction of empathy by the story’s end, Mr. Roy never allows Max to lose his core personality.
Recommended for readers who enjoy the sort of potty-humor associated with Louis Sachar or Dav Pilky, 4th – 8th grade males and reluctant readers.
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Genre: Realistic Fiction. Age: 4th -8th Grade. Pages: 208.
Themes: Bullying, Friendship, Humor
Thank you Picnic Basket. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Date: March 2009.
ISBN-10: 0547152639/ ISBN-13: 978-0547152639
Buy Max Quigley, Technically Not a Bully Here
Houghton Mifflin Book Site
Author interview on Boomerang Blog
James Roy is an Australian author who likes to eat Thai food while watching Edward Scissorhands or maybe he likes to listen to Coldplay while reading Slaughterhouse-Five. You can figure out all his likes and dislikes on his website.
© 2007-2009 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com
Review also posted for National Reading Examiner.