"THE REVENGE OF THE DORKOIDS: The Secret Club Begins," by Holly Beck, Skyscraper Press Book, $8.99, 145 pages (ages 8-11)
Imagine for a moment what life was like in middle school, complete with bullies and their merciless teasing. Remember how cruel the bullies were and how there were times when you wanted to get them back by teaching them a lesson but didn't know how? That is how life is like for Aaron and his two best friends, Trevor and Ryan, in LDS author Holly Beck's novel, "Revenge of the Dorkoids: The Secret Club Begins."
Jake is the school's best soccer player and he is a bully. He picks on Aaron and his two friends because they are smart and get good grades in all of their classes. Day after day, Jake calls Aaron and his two friends "dorkoids," and they are getting tired of it. But what can they do against the school bully without causing more trouble?
Beginning with the discovery that the word "dorkoid" is not what it really means from Aaron's dad, Aaron decides to show Jake that being smart has advantages. The story follows Aaron, Ryan and Trevor as they begin to put their plan into play, along with beneficial tidbits from Aaron's little sister, Meghan. By using large words in daily conversation, the three friends are also able to keep their plan a secret from Jake, explore the word "dorkoid" by discovering what it really means, and gaining new friends in the process. Will their plan work or will it blow up in their faces?
"Revenge of the Dorkoids" not only teaches kids how to not use violence or verbal abuse when dealing with bullies, but it also teaches how one can use words to one's advantage by integrating 43 vocabulary words throughout the story. The name of every chapter is a different vocabulary word accompanied by the definition on the opposite page. Then, throughout the novel each vocabulary word is in bold on the page with the definition located at the bottom of the page so that young readers won't have to look the word up elsewhere and be able to stay connected with the story.
Beck, of the Billings Montana Stake, has created a fairly short novel that is easy to follow and that readers of all reading levels can enjoy. Lying beneath a fun story is the theme of how to deal with bullies without resorting to violence or verbal abuse and not being afraid to ask for help from friends, teachers and families, even if one's little sister is a tiny bit annoying.
It will hit home with children dealing with bullies and stimulate valuable discussion between children and parents. It can also provide hope for the social underdog with the idea that they don't have to let bullies always win and to use their intellect to solve common social problems.
Beck's website is www.dorkoids.com.
Lauren Zachary is a recent college graduate from Southern Utah University with an English degree.