American Book Classics
hile studying the life patterns of various species,
and in particular their adaptation techniques, Charles Darwin
noted that physical fitness is one of the requsites of survival.
Darwin also observed that only those species that are strong
enough to meet and adapt to challenges survive; the weak perish.
We have no evidence today to
suggest that when Darwin issued his famous scientific dictum on survival of the
fittest might have considered the problem of bullying. Yet he predicted the phenomena
in its entirety.
Playful bullying among school
children often culminates in impulsive acts of violence. As a result, educational
institutions produce a shocking number of juvenile delinquents. Only those students
who are fit enough to meet and adapt to the challenges thrown by the bullies
Marilyn LaCourts The
reviews the relationship between the bullies and victims from a new
angle. Sydney Schuster, a survivor of bullying, wonders if something can be done
to prevent the bullying of weak children by the strong. One of Sydneys
casual discussions with his chauffeur-servant leads him to the evolutionary theories
of Darwin. Eventually, he discovers a curious fact: If someone can pull others
down, he can as well lift them up!
Sydney is as ambitious as
he is affluent. He decides to bring the bullies and the victims together under
a small umbrella and leave them on their own without adult supervision. They
will be free to organize things by themselves and to do as they wish. How wonderful
would it be, Sydney imagines, if the children learn something in the process.
Sydney is aware that the success of the project depends on whether the bullies
in the group are willing to promote weak peers instead of bullying them. Sydney
wants to know if the freedom he is prepared to grant them can alter their basic
To ensure cooperation among
the selected students, Sydney announces an inducement--The Prize--which he assures
will be awarded at the end of the project provided they follow the rules.
If they do, they all win; otherwise they all lose!
The chapters race as an odd
bunch of seventh grade students--the curious, the mischievous, the brilliant
and the incredible--take the stage and begin their interactions.
to educators, counselors, students and their parents and is an excellent choice
for school libraries.