Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Transformation of a Bully

After reading this book, each segment in this trailer will make perfect sense!
Trailer created by Cesteiner1214 and taken from YouTube.

Crash by Jerry Spinelli

Interesting Fact:
The setting of this book is in Pennsylvania, which also happens to be Jerry Spinelli home state.  Jerry Spinelli is a Newbery Medalist. Crash is directed at 5th-8th grade students and there is a guide available for using this specific novel in your classroom!

What is the book about?
Basically this is an account of bullying from the bully's perspective.  However, there are many other themes involved in the book such as caring for the environment, haughtiness vs. humbleness, and realizing what is truly important in life. 
The story is narrated by John Coogan a.k.a. Crash.  He is not only a bully but is also a popular football player, which is where he got his nickname.  Since Crash is well aware of his talent, he is very self-absorbed even claiming to be "the answer to your dreams."  He has a little sister who he considers "weird," parents that spend too much of their time working, and a loving grandfather who has grown old. Crashes target is a "dweeby" neighbor named Penn Webb who is nicknamed Spider. Crash begins to bully Penn back in first grade. The pranks get much more elaborate as Crash matches up with another bully named Mike in middle school.  The fact that Penn joins the cheerleading squad and becomes friends with the most gorgeous girl in school (whom also happens to be Crash's crush) only adds fuel to the fire.  Throughout the story Penn remains an innocent victim of bullying, never retaliating for all that Crash does to him. It is interesting to note the reasons that Crash provides for literally hating Penn, probably some of which are the same reasons real bullies have for picking on their targets.  After the 7th grade football season, certain factors begin to change in Crash's life. These changes involve his parents, money, and grandfather. Crash suddenly begins to reevaluate himself in a way that he can not explain but that he admits feels good about.  Such changes begin the transformation of a bully and lead to the best possible ending EVER!

Why read it?
I'm sure boys would say "because it's about football," but the reason is much deeper than that.  I would say that you should read it because it tells the story from a bullies eyes.  Reading such a book can help a bully understand themselves. It can also help readers, especially parents, identify some factors that can influence bullying. This story proves that people can change, that it's important to stand up for what is right, and that family comes first even if simplifying a way of life is needed.

Link to check out:
Jerry Spinelli's Website

Other Popular Books by Jerry Spinelli:
I Can be Anything (Easy Read)
Love, Stargirl


  1. I created a post a week or so ago on Goodreads looking for a good book to encourage my middle school age son to read regarding bullying. I don't think this one was mentioned, but it's PERFECT. Awesome post!!

  2. Thank you! I'm glad that I was able to help and I hope that your son enjoys this book as much as I did. :) Wishing you both happy readings!