My Secret Bully

My Secret Bully101471089My Secret Bully

Trudy Ludwig, author

Abigail Marble, illustrator

River Wood Books, 2004, Fiction

Suitable for:  Ages 5-11

Themes:  Bullying, Behavior, Friendship, Relational Aggression

Opening/Synopsis“Katie is my secret bully.  A lot of people would be surprised to know this because they think she’s my friend.  And she does act like my friend…sometimes.”   Monica and Katie have been best friends since kindergarten.  Monica enjoys being around Katie when they have fun together.  But at school, Katie  is just plain mean.  She gossips about Monica, threatens her when she plays with other kids, and stakes a claim on her friends.  Monica’s mother confronts her when she doesn’t want to go to school.  Mom shares her own experience with a bully.  With Mom’s support, Monica musters the strength to stand up to Katie with interesting results.

Why I like this book:  Trudy Ludwig has written a moving story about emotional bullying among girls.   Abigail Marble’s illustrations are emotive, colorful and support the story.   Since  Ludwig wrote this book, bullying continues to increase among girls.  It takes many forms “exclusion, humiliation, manipulation and name-calling.”  There are many reasons why, but social media hasn’t helped the situation.   Trudy has tackled a poignant subject about relational bullying/aggression.  The book is an important read for kids, for teachers and school counselors who have or are creating bullying prevention programs.

I’m featuring Trudy’s books because they are a culmination of what she’s learned about bullying as an author.  She is a member of the International Bullying Prevention Association and is a popular Random House speaker.  On Monday I will review Confessions of a Former Bully, which brings closure between Katie and Monica.  It is written as a journal.  I will end with Trouble Talk next Friday.  Last spring, I featured her book Better Than Youa book for boys about bragging  and hurtful behavior.

Resources:  The book provides a message or parents and teachers, and interesting information for victims.  There is also a guide for classroom discussion and other resources.  Trudy Ludwig is a member of the International Bullying Prevention Association and is a popular speaker.  Visit Trudy Ludwig at her website.  She has recently written  a Wonder Lessons Guide for Random House about bullying.  A great tool for teachers and parents during October’s National Bullying Prevention Month.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

30 thoughts on “My Secret Bully

  1. As one of my daughters experienced exactly this type of problem, I’m very glad to have this book added to our list. There’s something much more difficult, in some ways, about a bully who is also supposed to be a friend – it’s confusing. Thanks for sharing this one, Pat, and I look forward to the other 2 you mentioned.


    • Susanna, my daughter also experienced similar bullying. That’s why the book meant so much to me. But, I’m not sure 18 years ago, we used the term with relational agression. Perhaps “two-faced or mean.” I’m just happy there are so many books appearing addressing this growing problem.


  2. You can’t go wrong with a Trudy Ludwig book and this one is such a great teaching tool! We love Trouble Talk, too. My second graders actually gasp out loud at the mean stuff they experience in Trudy’s books, but what better way to learn empathy than to feel what they’re feeling … and then take action! Thanks, Pat.


  3. Sounds like some great choices for us for national bullying month, Pat. This sounds like quite a mature picture book, and I certainly have found as girls hit that 9-11 age, their behaviour can me painfully hurtful toward each other. Like Susanna, i think it is poignant that the bully is a ‘friend’.


    • Joanna, all the reason to start teaching kids about bullying at an earlier age and keep at it. You are right, girls between ages 9-11 can be very hurtful. I know that’s when I experienced it myself. Vivian shared an app today about bullying — a great tool for the classroom.


  4. There can never be enough books about bullying. There are so many ways to approach the subject and tackle the problem. Some offer outward solutions, some offer inner solutions beginning with the child’s sense of self and self-esteem. I think both approaches are necessary. Friends are often bullies, and feeling loved can become convoluted as we often love our abusers.


    • Great insight Niamh. I have often wondered about how childhood bullying has impacted the self-esteem of many women and led to abusive relationships later in life. I agree there can never be enough books about bullying — starting at a very early age.


  5. An excellent review and choice of book Pat. As my first ms to be critiqued actually deals with bullying, this will be good research for me to see how Trudi proaches the subject for her young readers. Thankyou for this timely review, Pat.


  6. This is a situation that we also see in a lot of adult relationships, where people are shocked to learn that one person in the relationship is very different in some situations than in others. It makes it really hard for the person being bullied to get support when most of the people around her (or him) only see the nice behavior by the bully, and never the mean stuff. With October being anti-bullying month, this is a great place to start as we all offer resources and seek ways to stop the hurting that is so pervasive. Thanks Pat!!!! Here’s our page on anti-bullying resources


  7. This is such an important topic. I love that her books are so direct and true to life. She doesn’t hold anything back. Great review!


  8. This book sounds excellent — I think people often think of bullying in terms of boys being the bully, but I know from experience how cruel girls can be. This book sounds as though it would help in so many ways. Thanks for sharing it!


  9. Wonderful book, Pat! And so appropriate to kick off National Bullying Prevention Month which start in a couple of days. 🙂 Love the resource list! I’m looking forward to your reviews of the other books in her series…will have to check the library to see if I can get them.


  10. I’ve been best friends with girls in school for a long time, different girls in different school, and I understand how competitive we could get with one another. Competition without restraints or guidance could very well go on to Bullying. Very glad to learn about this book. It’ll be a terrific resource for parents and teachers!


  11. Pingback: PPBF: Hooway for Wodney Wat…Believe in Yourself! « Positive Parental Participation

  12. This is such a problem among kids. I had a discussion with a student yesterday when substituting. He was calling himself a retard….trying to be humorous. He was the cutest young man and was very receptive when I talked to him about how hurtful that word can be. I don’t know if he hadn’t ever thought about it…or if an adult hadn’t ever “called” him on it. Anyway, I hope he will think before saying it. I was substituting in the computer lab and they were making posters about cyber bullying. Their teacher had done a good job of covering this, and some of the posters were just awesome.
    Thanks for highlighting this book!


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