Review of ‘Ty the Bull’ by Brenda Perlin, K.D. Emerson, & Rex Baughman (September 2014):
I received a copy of this book as a gift
“Ty the Bull” by Brenda Perlin, K.D. Emerson, and Rex Baughman, is a short story about bullying, alienation, and learning to cope with things beyond our control. Told from the perspective of Ty, a ten-year old boy whose parents recently divorced, the story is based on Rex’s own experiences. At first glance this is not the type of book I read. I’m a fantasy author with a penchant for science and history. I’ve never been a big fan of ‘lesson’ stories. That said, this short (<30 minute read) story uses several things to break away from the ‘preachy’ aspect of those types of stories to successfully communicate its message.
One key way the authors avoid being ‘preachy,’ is the realism of Ty’s experiences with the lead bully Gabe. While there’s no doubt that Gabe’s a bully, Ty’s not completely blameless. His own actions help to isolate him from his friends. His resulting guilt and shame come through and represent as much of a hurdle for him as conquering his bully. The story successfully uses the first person narrative to share Ty’s frustration, anger, and fear. His parents are mentioned, but have no ‘speaking’ roles. Other than a very brief exchange with a misinformed math teacher there are no active adults in the story – a very effective way to illustrate Ty’s alienation. Speaking of illustrations, the artwork (credited to Baughman), augments the story and reminds the reader that Ty is only ten.
Without giving it away, I found the ending probably the best part of the book. Yes, with the help of fellow bullying survivor Ty manages to solve his problem, but it’s not the triumphant success Hollywood would’ve showcased. My only quibble would be that bullying is a serious problem for some children and beyond their ability to solve on their own or without adults. Having said that, I believe this is an excellent book for parents or teachers to read with their children and students.
Amazon link for Ty the Bull