Thursday, April 5, 2012

YA book blog: Scrawl by Mark Shulman

Cover art: Scrawl
Cover art: Scrawl
In Scrawl by Mark Shulman ( New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2010), Tod Munn, a bully, has to serve detention by writing each day in a notebook under the supervision of Mrs. Woodrow. As he writes, he increasingly reveals details about his school experiences and home life.

A classmate’s comments about this book on an earlier discussion thread made me want to read it. I was teased and ostracized in school for precisely those problems that are faced by children who have Asperger’s syndrome. From my classmate’s post:
“They have trouble communicating with others, using imagination in response to situations, and making friends and participating in social activities. Bullies use these against them to tease, manipulate relationships, and isolate them from their peers.”
(I don’t remember the reason that my classmate brought up Asperger’s syndrome; as I recall, she was not suggesting that Tod was on the autism spectrum.)

Since my diagnosis in adulthood, I have compiled a list of books that I believe would be informative to people with an Asperger’s diagnosis.

What I found interesting about this book is that there is more than one bully in it, and the bullies have different motivations. Tod takes other students’ lunch money because his family is poor. But Tod in turn is being cyber-bullied; humiliating videos of him are being posted on the Internet by a student named Greg.

Greg enjoys a position of privilege in the school; he gets special treatment from his teachers and the school administrators.

One of the most compelling aspects of this story for me was watching Tod become comfortable with letting down his guard to admit the existence of the videos and the cyber-bullying.

I think a student who was being bullied in school would find the portrayal of Tod enlightening. I think this book belongs in a YA collection.

Originally submitted to a class discussion board for Cuesta College LIBT 118: Connecting Adolescents with Literature and Libraries.

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