16 Aug 2010

Monster Maddie

If you've been reading my blog for a while you may know that I was a bullied kid. It is not something I talk about a lot, because frankly, even decades later, thoughts of that time still hurt me deeply. Name calling, deliberate exclusion, verbal abuse, vandalising of books and property... all were part of every day reality for me. The bullying went on unrelenting for many years, and it has moulded my character to this day.

Did you know though, that I was not bullied by a bully? Well, not unless I went to a school populated solely by bullies. No, the kids that made my life a misery were in the most part nice kids. Just not to me. The worst culprits were a boy named Eric and his friend, John. Eric was not very bright and his ears stuck out like those of the current Leader of the Opposition. (Did I really say that?) Eric was bullied too, only not as badly as I was, and I think he was just relieved that there was one worse off than he.

I can remember one occasion when I, too was a bully. Tegwin was the object of some terrible name calling by me one day as she walked across the quadrangle to maths class. I can remember it as if it were yesterday, and I my cheeks still burn with shame as I recall how I yelled her ugly nickname aloud for all to hear. I never did it again. I was so ashamed of myself.

I wonder - were all the other kids ashamed when they teased me?

Maddie was bullied too. The first day at her new school was the worst day of her whole life. Nobody spoke to her; nobody looked at her. "They're all busy with their games and friends. It's like I've turned invisible," Maddie muttered. (Oh, how I longed to be invisible sometimes - it was so much preferable to being noticed.) At home Maddie threw herself on the bed, and cried until supper time.

Unlike me though, Maddie was strong.
Next morning Maddie woke up as a monster, with fangs and claws and wild, wild hair. She grinned an evil grin.

"Now the kids will notice me," she said.

Miss Maddie Monster decided to make mischief.
Unlike me, Maddie decided to fight back. Instead of being bullied, Maddie became the bully.

Then one day, Miss Maddie Monster makes Little Emma cry.

Written by The Book Chook, Susan Stephenson, Monster Maddie is written in rhythmic alliterative prose that kids will love to speak aloud.
She put ants in their pants, dirt in their shirts, and ooze in their shoes.
...Miss Maddie Monster laughed and shook her wild, wild hair.
All children need to read Monster Maddie.

All kids need to discuss it too, and it will come as no surprise to those familiar with the feathery goodness of Susan's blog to discover that at the back of the book are six pages of activities for teachers and parents to help kids explore the themes contained in Monster Maddie. The activities include creative writing, thinking and estimating, discussion starters to help address the issue of bullying and making friends, drama and more. Susan's ongoing commitment to providing quality activities for children shines forth in this book.

A few months ago my beautiful Jemimah was subjected to a weekend of horrible bullying. At a Church Camp, of all places. The kids were nice - their parents are my friends. A significant percentage of them were homeschooled as well. When I heard those kids saying nasty things about my precious princess and deliberately excluding her from their games, I could have cried. Actually, who am I kidding? I did cry. Bucket loads. I so wanted to protect my daughter from this sort of behaviour - it was one of the reasons I chose to homeschool.

Don't assume that your nice children would never bully another child. Please.

Every child needs to read Monster Maddie.

Every child.

Excuse me as I wipe a tear from my eye.

You can purchase Monster Maddie from Amazon or from Guardian Angel Publishing. Find more about the book at The Book Chook.


  1. I will try to get this, even though my kids are older, I have the grandies who will doubtless attend school.
    Oh Jeanne, I know just what you mean about bullying kids who you think would never do such a thing. Trouble with us christian parents is I think some of us are in a little glass house and just cannot imagine that our kids would behave in such a way.
    I'm not sure about my own kids so far as bullying goes but I know they are often on the receiving end of the shunning from games and activities.
    Chin up darling. I think at times we feel it and find it harder to deal with than them.
    I am very sorry, and sad, to here you were bullied though. No doubt there are wounds, but I am certain that the Lord has used this experience to make you the wonderful, thoughtful and kind person that you are ♥
    Hope Jemimah is okay and comes out stronger for it, too.

  2. Jeanne, it is so wonderful to know that even though this is a children's book, you "get" it at an adult level. Thank you for your review, and thank you for sharing your feelings about bullies with us. I truly believe we CAN make a difference to bullying by discussing it, and helping kids understand about it. I would love to think my little picture book contributed too.

  3. Jeanne, Bullying was one reason we chose homeschooling for Star as our Liddy was severly bullied. Despite this Star was bullied just for being homeschooled. She is strong & fought back but she has never forgotten.

  4. Hi Jeanne, Have missed you!!I was bullied for having red hair, freckles and glasses, my husband was bullied for never talking and being skinny and my son was bullied for everything. He was different in what he liked how he thought through issues how he would stand up for the other underdogs. He would be distressed everyday at school and beg me not to send him again. So you can probably feel my relief that we have now been homeschooling over a year now YEY. I still keep a close eye on my children though when we are at large homeschool gathewrings and picnics as there seems to sometimes be clicky groups etc I hope I can help my kids not to do that to others and how to handle it themselves. Take care & blessings to you and yours. Renelle

  5. I'm sorry you and Jemimah had to endure the bullying. I wasn't bullied in school and ferociously stood up for anyone that was. Me thinks the reason I wasn't was because I had an older brother as protection. When I went into the military I was bullied - not by the men but by the women. Go figure. I'm not sure anyone escapes it.

    Anyhow, I am glad that Susan wrote this book and will request our library to add it to their list of purchases.

  6. Having had a son who was badly bullied over a 8 week period, not very long but has taken 2 years for recovery I understand how much damage it can cause. What was tragic that after we moved our son from the school, some of the children went to the school youth worker and said they were sorry for getting involved and they always knew the stories were in fact lies, but it didn't stop them from hurting my son with the lies.


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