Bully on the Bus (VN)


Australian Edition

American Edition

She’s big.
She’s smart.
She’s mean.
She’s the bully on the bus.
She picks on me and I don’t like it.
But I don’t know how to make her stop.

The bully on the bus taunts Leroy, then silences him with threats of worse to come. To distract him, his teacher introduces him to the adventures in The Big Bad Book of Fairytales. Hidden throughout are the clues that Leroy needs to overcome the bullying taunts once and for all.

With hidden treasures for kids, parents and teachers alike and a heartwarming ending, Bully on the Bus gives courage to anyone who might feel small.


Bully on the Bus is published in Australia by UQP and North America by Kane Miller Books


REVIEWS   (Click on the links to read the full review.)

Selected for New Zealand Listener’s Top 50 Children’s Books for 2014.
Winner of the 2015 Australian Family Therapists’ Awards for Children’s Literature – Younger Readers/Picture Book Category.
NCSS and CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People 2019 (America)
Selected resource; Reading Australia, and Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Centre (USA)

  • New Zealand Listener: “Eloquent blank-verse tale.”
  • NSW Teacher’s Federation  (Includes discussion Qs & activities.)
  • Alphabet Soup (by 10yo Joseph): I forgot it was a verse novel halfway through and I was very worried for Leroy and couldn’t stop reading. I will definitely read it again. I would recommend this book to kids in years 1 to 4 and their teachers — especially the kids because it teaches them about bullying.”
  • SquiggleBooks: “I can’t recommend Bully on the Bus highly enough. As a teacher, a mother and a writer this one gets my tick of approval.”
  • & SquiggleKid: “When I read it I could feel what it’s like to be bullied. I felt like the main character was me… Once I started I had to finish the whole story.”
  •  Herald Sun (Melbourne): “A lovely story and a great way to tackle bullying.”
  • DeeScribewriting Blog  Review and Interview: “There are so many things I love about this book. The language is lyrical and beautiful and this topic is dealt with in a sensitive way that also offers real solutions to bullying that kids will relate to. With hidden treasures for kids, parents and teachers alike, Bully on the Bus gives courage to anyone who might feel small.”
  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney): “‘This beautifully written verse novel ticks a lot of boxes. It is entertaining as well as educational and it captures perfectly the emotions of a bullied child.”
  • Emily Gale on Readings: “Bully on the Bus had me choked up. Apel has a real talent for conveying realistic scenes in very few words.”
  • Lamont Standing Orders: “Ideal for lower to middle primary students who will feel for Leroy’s problem and cheer his positive actions at the end.”
  • Townsville Bulletin (child reviewer Lauren Aitkenson): “A fun story … captivating and impossible to put down.”
  • Kids’ Book Review (Anouska Jones): “Each carefully chosen word in this verse novel has been precisely placed on the page, providing children with a wonderful example of how poetry can evoke emotion. This is an important book as well as a brilliantly creative one. Highly recommended.”
  • Magpies  (Rebecca Kemble): “This is a verse novel, well paced and neatly done. All the characters are believable and authentic.”
  • ABC Radio Central West (Deb Abela): “With poetic turns of phrase on every page, this is a simple book with a powerful message and an upbeat finale that is warm and touching.”
  • Aussie Reviews (Sally Murphy): “A gorgeous new verse novel for younger readers. This is Apels first foray into the verse novel form, but hopefully it won’t be her last. She handles it deftly and with sensitivity.”
  • CBCA Reading Time (Sharon Seymour): “This verse novel is a delight to read.  Its clever construction where the arrangement of the words make it a visual treat, adds to the emotive language. Highly recommended for lower primary aged children and above.”
  • Marlborough District Libraries (NZ): “‘Provides a great launching pad for discussion around this very serious topic.”
  • BabyMac (Guest Post by Megan Daley) – Make your 8 year old fall in love with reading (again).
  • Boomerang Blog (Dimity Powell): “There is plenty to cry over and love. Apel explores both the external extremes and internal conflict Leroy endures until he finally finds the courage to be a ‘bully-tamer’.”
  • A Year of Reading (American review): “It’s hard to know what to do when a bully is making your life miserable. Kathryn Apel captures the emotional upheaval and the unwillingness to tell trusted adults perfectly in her verse novel for younger readers.”
  • Momo “‘Bully on the Bus’ will take you on an emotional journey figuratively and literally.  There were times I just had to stop and take a breath and reassure myself that because this is a children’s book, aimed at middle primary, everything would be okay for Leroy… This book is an important one to share with Middle Grade students.”
  • Kirkus “Simply written in verse, this is a story many children will find familiar. An optimistic ending… Simple, hopeful, and positive.”
  • School Library Journal “The honesty and rawness of Leroy’s emotions expressed throughout each verse will stir compassion in young readers. For readers experiencing or witnessing bullying themselves, it will hopefully inspire and empower. VERDICT A short yet poignant title on a timely topic; a valuable addition to elementary school and public library collections.”
  • My Reading Rug “A beautiful book that I read in one sitting, with tears in my eyes … A wonderful book to introduce your children to poetry, and the idea that there are different styles of writing … Not a hard read – but definitely one that I’d encourage you to read with your kids. Can’t recommend it highly enough.”
  • BiblioKids “This book is so powerful in its descriptive language, conveying emotions and situational reality. It has a constructive, positive resolution without descending into clichés.”
  • SWON Libraries CLEAR Reviews “The flowing verse tells the story beautifully. I would recommend this book to any child who has been bullied or knows someone who has been bullied. It would also use it as a read aloud with elementary students to discuss bullying and being kind.”
  • Pink Shirt Day (NZ) “I loved this verse novel and so did my nine-year-old son. The verse format makes it a shorter and easier read, plus also brings the story alive with emotion, using poetic language and the playful placement of words on the page.”
  • Goodreads (assorted reviewers): “I’m still thinking about Bully on the Bus by Kathryn Apel… This is the perfect topic for a verse novel – the format sits well with the thought processes of primary school student Leroy. An excellent example of how to teach children to deal with bullies… Love love love this book!! Read it, then give it to your kids. Absolutely loved this book! Kathryn chooses exactly the right words to describe feelings and situations and her writing is inspirational! … I feel like it’s the perfect book to partner with ‘Wonder’ to look at the broader issue of how we treat each other and how it’s important to forgive too.”

UQP (Australian) Book Trailer

Kane Miller (American) Book Trailer

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