Wednesday, July 3, 2013

BYSTANDER by James Preller

Many readers will be able to relate to the main character in James Preller's BYSTANDER.  Moving from Ohio to Bellport, Long Island, has made Eric the new kid on the block, and being the new seventh grader has put fear into the hearts of even the most well-adjusted kids.

Eric witnesses a terrified, ketchup-covered boy running from a group of kids.  The boy escapes and Eric is left to confront his tormentors.  One boy named Griffin appears to be the leader of the group.  Griffin tries to intimidate Eric, but Eric is able to stand his ground.  Hopefully, not all the kids in Bellport are like this Griffin character.

When school starts, Eric quickly learns that Griffin is a bully but not a typical one.  He seems to have many adults convinced that he is a polite, well-behaved kid.  He operates by gaining the confidence of his followers and then getting them to do his dirty work.  Eric falls victim to Griffin's cunning ways.  It takes several unfortunate events and Eric being accused of having a weapon in his locker before Eric realizes exactly how much trouble Griffin can cause.

Author James Preller deftly handles a current adolescent concern - bullying.  By breaking the stereotype of the rough, tough bully, and revealing a more devious variety, Preller's story will make readers consider their own role in bullying situations. 

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