Authors: Eric Kahn Gale
To Whom It May Concern:
You must have gone through a lot to get this book
in your hands, and I'm not sure what you think
you're about to read.
But whatever it is, you're wrong.
This is a record of The Bully Book
and what it did to me.
How I fought it, and the way it fought back.
Once, I thought The Bully Book was a myth.
Then maybe a mystery I could solve.
Now I know it's a monster and I'm trying to defeat it.
Are you with me â¦
or The Book?
How to Make Trouble without Getting in Trouble, Rule the School, and Be the Man
That title is too long, but it gets the job done. The main message of this manual is:
Get the job done.
I'm in sixth grade. I've been stuck in school since kindergarten and I've learned a few things.
I'm an observer. I see what works and what doesn't.
Why does a joke sound funny coming from one kid but seem stupid when someone else says it? Why do some kids have to eat alone while others are rolling in friends? These are the questions I've been thinking about.
I'm here to tell youâI've got the answers.
This year, I survived the school district merger, outsmarted kids ten times my size, and completely conquered sixth grade. I've got a ton of friends, everybody does what I say, and teachers don't mess with me. This has been the best year of my life and I made it all by myself.
How'd I do it? That's what I'm about to tell you.
For as long as I can remember, all I wanted was to be normal and stay out of trouble. And I've done that pretty well for the last 11 years. But today was the first day of 6th grade, and things got a little strange.
When I came into the classroom, Jason Crazinsky already had Melody Miller by the shoulders and was telling her to stand still. I'm getting mad just thinking about it. I hate the way he was touching her.
It was a few minutes before first period and everyone crowded around Jason and Melody. He raised his left foot in the air and looked at her intensely. She shivered.
This was a “karate demonstration,” and Jason has done this kind of thing to kids before. I keep a low enough profile so I never get chosen for this stuff, but I didn't like that he was picking on Melody. Me and her go all the way back to kindergarten. When we used to play House she'd always be my mom, so now that we're older I feel pretty protective. I got ready to charge Jason, counter his karate moves, and break her out of his grip.
“Kah-hah-yah!” He kicked his foot three times, inches away from her nose, then stepped back and bowed for the class before I could even make a move. Melody stood there frozen.
“That's amazing,” someone said. Jason just smiled. He's a skinny kid, but strong. His face makes him look like he's angry all the time. Though maybe he just is. Jason always wants to challenge you to an arm-punching contest. Or to show you his black belt. “Kung fu!” yelled Adrian Noble. “You could demolish somebody with that.”
“Ka-ra-te,” Jason corrected him. “And it is used only in self-defense.”
Yeah, like defending yourself against a tiny girl you've pinned against the wall. That's why I call him Jason Crazypants.
“Thanks for saving me, Eric.” Melody walked over and pushed me with her palm. “Were you just standing there the whole time?”
“Sorry!” I said. “What could I do? I don't wanna mess with Crazypants.”
“You're a lame-o, and he's a butt-hole.” Melody started shouting to no one in particular. “Everybody in this grade needs to grow up!”
I think Melody is as loud as she is because she's short. People would look right over her head if she weren't yelling down there.
“We're not little kids anymore,” she went on. “When will you get that through your thick heads, people?”
“Hey hey hey â¦” I whispered, ushering her across the room.
It's too early to be starting trouble. I just want things to go smoothly this year.
In our small-town district, 6th grade is the last year of elementary school. Everybody feels too old to still be here, and I think it's making people act weird. We're the biggest kids in the school now, so I guess we've got nobody to worry about except ourselves.
Mr. Whitner walked into the classroom and tried to get our attention, but everyone was busy saying hi to friends they hadn't seen all summer. I looked around the room for Donovan.
Whitner told us that the seats we picked today would be permanent. I think the classroom exploded.
The words had barely left his mouth and butts were slamming into chairs. The people we sat next to today would seal our fates for the year. Melody grabbed me by the chin and whipped my face around.
“Hey, come on!” she yelled, and yanked me into a seat next to hers. Melody doesn't ask for your opinion, but I was glad she wanted to sit next to me.
There was an empty seat to the left of me and I put my hand on it. A second later, I yelped when Colin Greene sat down on my fingers. He's the biggest loser in my grade, six years running. Through his worn-out sweatpants, I felt a moistness I'd rather leave a mystery.
“S-sorry,” Colin spit at me, getting up.
I pulled back my hand, wiping spittle off the side of my face.
“I'm saving this seat for Donovan,” I said.
My best friend, Donovan White. Ever since we were partners for a social studies project in 4th grade and we reenacted the entire Civil War. I stayed up all night, reading Wikipedia and writing the script while Donovan made a heavy-metal playlist to go along with the action. We acted all the parts ourselves. I was better at the generals and he played a very convincing corpse.
“Where is Donovan?” I said to Melody.
A smile stretched across her face. “Working on sausage number four.”
Donovan's fat, and Melody can be kind of a turd. But I like that about them.
The door to the classroom opened, and somebody came through it, but it wasn't Donovan. Not the guy I knew.
The long, limp blond hair was gone, hair that people always told him would look nice if he were a girl. It was buzzed short, like he was an army guy. The braces had disappeared. Big horse teeth hung out of his mouth because his upper lip was too short to cover them. And something else was missing too, about 25 pounds of boob, butt, and stomach.
“Donovan!” I yelled. “I saved you a seat, man. What happened to you?”
I knew he'd been away at camp the whole summer, but this was ridiculous.
He walked right past me.
“Big D!” called Adrian Noble, the class giant. “Over here, man!” Adrian wears prescription sports goggles instead of glasses. Just in case he needs to tackle you on the way to the water fountain.
“Donovan, hey,” I yelled again. “I saved you a seat.”
“Grunt!” Jason Crazypants stood up. His perma-angry face glared at me. “Shut your dumb mouth,” he said.