By Maria T. Lennon
HarperCollins, August 26, 2014
Hilarious tween heroine Charlie C. Cooper—reformed bully, misguided fashionista, and so-called middle child—is back! This sequel to Confessions of a So-called Middle Child will delight fans of Louise Rennison, Mean Girls, and Harriet the Spy.
Charlie's adventures offer a fresh look at middle school, bullying, and mean girls. In Book Two, Charlie navigates sudden celebrity and auditions for a television series, but a little white lie may endanger the one friendship Charlie can truly count on—and her connection to swoon-worthy crush Bobby! Poignant and seriously funny, Charlie's account of her dilemma is one all tweens will relate to.
Charlie knows what it feels like to be stuck in the middle, but it's finally her time to shine. After saving her friend Marta in the old Houdini tunnels of Los Angeles, Charlie's become a local hero, gained sudden celebrity, and *MIGHT* just become a TV star! But will Charlie let her newfound fame go to her head? Watch out, Hollywood!
Today, we have a special guest. Maria T. Lennon, author of the So-Called Confessions of a Middle Child series. Thank You Maria for stopping by Kid Lit Frenzy and talking about such an important issue as bullying.
You ask about how I think teachers can help students deal with unkindness or bullying and the word that comes to mind is transparency.
Let me backtrack a bit. Months ago a parent came up to me at a book signing and asked how much I charge to come to school to talk to the kids about bullying. She said her school was full of so-called mean kids and explained that their principal did nothing about it.
I told her I do it for free all the time, and not because I am an expert on the subject: I am not. I’ve just been through it and seen it over and over again as a parent of four children and a school volunteer.
So I went. And let me tell you it was an eye opener. The kids were great at this school, they were interested and receptive and asked so many questions but when I ended the first presentation the principal, an elderly man, told me there wouldn’t be a second presentation. I was shocked. This had never happened to me before, and I’ve gone everywhere from Catholic schools, to elementary public, private, and charter. I’ve gone to schools in East L.A. and schools in West Hollywood—and never, and I mean never, have I had this response. I asked him why.
He said that the way the children were laughing at the name Marta the Farta (the name the bullied girl is given in book 1) showed him that the presentation was in fact promoting bullying. What if there was a girl here and her name was Marta? They’d all be calling her Marta the Farta! No, no, this is over, he said, much to the shock of teachers and parents.
I said nothing to dissuade him, of course, because I could see that he was fixed in his views. But it taught be a very valuable lesson—bring it out in the open. It takes the wind out of the sails, the air out of the balloon, the sting out of the name-calling, the power out of the bully. Everyone’s name can be made to rhyme with something unpleasant. It happens. My little brother called me Maria Pia Diarrhea until I went to college. I spent years trying to come up with something for his name, Patrick, but man, is that a tough name to rhyme with. The point is as long as it’s kept under wraps, hidden like a dirty secret, bullies have their power and the victim, their shame.
Now, on the flip side, the storyline in book 1 is loosely based on a real situation handled entirely differently than the aforementioned principal. A girl was being badly bullied in my daughter’s third grade class and the teacher, a great teacher, stopped everything to address it. She did council, where the kids sit in a circle and talk about what was going on. She made kids read books on the subject and had the so-called bullies talk to the girl they bullied. This experience showed me the true transformative power of a great teacher. She brought the bullying out of the closet and shined a great big light on it and made it crinkle up and die before their eyes. It was amazing.
About Maria T. Lennon: Maria is a graduate of the London School of Economics, a novelist, a screenwriter, and the author of Confessions of a So-called Middle Child, the first book featuring the irrepressible Charlie C. Cooper. When not driving one of her four children to school or volunteering at school libraries, she can be found sitting in a parked car, a café, or a library, writing novels, travel articles, or just passed out. To learn more, and to download a free curriculum guide, visit her website: http://confessionsofasocalledmiddlechild.com/.
Follow all of the stops on Maria Lennon’s blog tour!
Wed, Aug 13 The Hiding Spot http://thehidingspot.blogspot.com/
Mon, Aug 18 Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers http://insatiablereaders.blogspot.com/
Tues, Aug 19 The Book Monsters http://www.thebookmonsters.com/
Wed, Aug 20 The Children's Book Review http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/
Thurs, Aug 21 Kid Lit Frenzy http://www.kidlitfrenzy.com/
Fri, Aug 22 Booking Mama http://www.bookingmama.net/
Mon, Aug 25 Read Now, Sleep Later http://www.readnowsleeplater.com/
Tues, Aug 26 Once upon a Story http://mariaburel.com/
Wed, Aug 27 The Late Bloomer's Book Blog http://thelatebloomersbookblog.blogspot.com/
Thurs, Aug 28 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia http://hauntedorchid.blogspot.com/
Fri, Aug 29 Beauty and the Bookshelf http://www.beautyandthebookshelf.com/
One lucky winner will receive both books featuring Charlie C. Cooper--CONFESSIONS OF A SO-CALLED MIDDLE CHILD, new in paperback, and WATCH OUT, HOLLYWOOD! MORE CONFESSIONS OF A SO-CALLED MIDDLE CHILD, in hardcover! (U.S. addresses only.) Participants must be 13 years or older, as well. Please complete the rafflecopter below to enter to win.