BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

I Am Jack by Susanne Gervay, illustrated by Cathy Wilcox

I Am Jack“Did you know that thirty percent of children in American schools are either bullied, or bully other kids?” asks award-winning Australian author Susanne Gervay in her “Author’s Note” for the first U.S. edition of her already bestselling novel. Inspired by her own son Jack’s experiences of being bullied, Gervay tells both a story and offers concrete paths to finding solutions, as well.

At 11, Jack is an exemplary older brother to Samantha. He’s a big help to his mother working hard to pay off the family’s mortgage alone. He appreciates his mother’s boyfriend, but isn’t quite sure if he’s ready for a stepfather. He graciously accepts his grandmother’s gifts of half-priced purple underwear, but much prefers when she just brings croissants. His almost-family best friend is Anna whose parents own the Super Delicioso Fruitologist Market next door. He’s a talented photographer and is growing the first-ever Ponto – half onion, half potato.

But at school, Jack is being bullied. His teachers are too busy to notice his skinned knees, his hiding in the library, his daily tardiness as he tries to avoid his main attacker. His mother is too overworked to see that his frequent illnesses and plummeting grades are signs of a much bigger problem. For awhile, Jack tries to handle everything on his own. But best friend Anna finally tells her parents, who immediately alert Jack’s mother. Shocked and distressed, Jack’s mother goes straight to the principal, setting in motion a series of events that quickly bring the necessary awareness to positively resolve a terrible situation.

The book is not without a few minor quibbles. The constant abundance of junk food is overwhelming (even if grandparents are granted free access to spoiling their grandchildren). Jack’s references to his mother’s dieting is a little much, especially when his 10-year-old younger sister starts mimicking her behavior – warning bells indeed! But the story’s focus – overcoming bullying together as both a family and community – definitely remains steadfast. Without a doubt, this is one title that children, parents, and educators should read together.

Tidbit: Hey … I’m my own tag on the publisher’s site. I think that’s a first for BookDragon!

Readers: Middle Grade, Adults

Published: 2009 (United States)



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