The Tornado

Feiwel & Friends. Oct. 2019. 256p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250168641.
Gr 4-6–Fifth grader Bell Kirby is phenomenal at designing and understanding systems like machines, projects for his Creator Club, and a habitat for his guinea pig—but none are more important than his systems to avoid Parker. Parker started bullying Bell two years ago. Bell told his teachers and his parents, but none of the usual things work when the bully is the principal’s son. What finally takes the heat off Bell is the arrival of Daelynn, the new girl with rainbow-colored hair and a love of horses. At first, Daelynn thinks Bell is her friend. Then Parker begins to bully Daelynn, and Bell doesn’t stop him. With gentle but persistent coaching from his father, Bell finally does the right thing. Or the wrong thing, but for the right reason. This story is based on events from the author’s life. Burt deftly captures Bell’s conflict: the relief of finally not being bullied alongside the understanding that it’s because the bully is hurting someone else. Burt also makes it clear that sometimes children will still get bullied, even if they do all of the things people say they should.
VERDICT The adults are present and engaged in Bell’s life, and he does not have to face this alone, a point that is sometimes absent in books like this. One of the best stories about bullying for middle grades. Highly recommended.

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