According to his teachers, Bradley Chalkers has "serious behavior problems." According the other kids at Red Hill School, he is "a monster." Bradley has low self-esteem and believes that, though this is his first time in fifth grade, it will not be his last. He compensates for his feelings of inadequacy by bullying the smaller kids. He is failing his classes and has already repeated the fourth grade. He cannot even accept the friendship of nice new kid, Jeff Fishkin. His parents are at a loss for how to help their son.
Then, the school hires Carla Davis, an unconventional school counselor. Carla insists that students address her by her first name, keeps her room messy, and wears mismatched socks. She runs her one-on-one counseling sessions informally, not insisting that the students stick with a particular topic. Above all, she does not tell them what to do, rather she helps them to think for themselves.
Carla encourages Bradley to reach for success and, because his self-worth rises begins to excel, showing the teachers and other kids of what he is capable. This book depicts real issues of growing up: bullying, teasing, first crushes, moving to new cities, and maintaining friendships. Sachar's dialogue is very realistic, as well.
This report prepared by Samantha S.