(P) and ©1995 Round River Records
"...Harley addresses that undersung rite of passage from the comforting confines of 4th grade (where the teachers are so coddling) to the be-cool-or-get-stomped boot camp that is middle school."(Parent's Choice)
We have listened to and enjoyed Bill Harley's other "books", but this one I really didn't like. It was well performed, but the stories sent the wrong message. Bill Harley describes surviving middle school by pretending to be invisible: Don't stand out, don't draw attention to yourself. He tells a story about a teacher who bullies and gets away with it, and that the school gets the oldest elementary kids ready for middle school by forgetting the kids names and being mean. That in middle school you aren't important to the school, that teachers won't try to remember your name, that you become a number. He tells about being bullied by older kids and that it is normal and no one interferes. Bill Harley does include a Vice-principal that connects with him over bottle cap collections and a bus driver that is kind, but no one helps him when he is bullied or and no one helps him when he feels he has to be invisible.
The only good thing that came out of all of this was a discussion with my son about being himself, standing up for himself and for others and especially: if a teacher ever bullies him that he should tell me and that teacher will get in HUGE trouble. I doubt that last will come up, but he needed to be reassured that teachers aren't bullies and the adults at school will help him when he needs it.
My husband and I really enjoyed listening to this one a lot, the kids are anticipating getting to listen to this one, it's their next surprise. We've loved all the Bill Harley stories that we've gotten so far and he's quickly becoming a household MUST have.
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