Bullying has become a common everyday phrase in the minds of youth and adults alike. It is a concept familiar to all and now cyber-bullying has become just as familiar, if not more so, to our youth. In The Disappearance of Emily H, a young girl is harassed and bullied to the point where she fakes her own death to avoid abuse from Jennifer and the group of mean she leads. Emily’s family, overcome with grief, leaves town. Her house is rented by Raine who has the ability to see other people’s memories; she calls these memories “sparkles” and is able to discover the whereabouts of Emily H.
After Emily’s disappearance, Jennifer decides to bully the two new kids to school: Raine and Shirlee. Up until middle school Shirlee has been home schooled, so she is extremely excited to be in public education and around her own peers. Shirlee’s happiness is short-lived. Raine walks into the bathroom to see Jennifer guarding the doors and poor Shirlee doing a potty dance; Jennifer will not let her use the bathroom. Raine takes advantage of a found sparkle, announcing to everyone Jennifer’s flame is blatantly ignoring her. This one moment allows Shirlee the opportunity to use the bathroom, but it places Raine in Jennifer’s immediate line of fire.
A sparkle hanging off of Jennifer’s necklace in her gym locker catches Raine’s eye and she takes it and, based on this found memory, forms a plan to bring Jennifer down and Emily out of isolation.
In the store:
Bullying! The Disappearance of Emily H details how sneaky kids can be while being openly violent and vindictive to their peers. A section displaying books for the younger generation as well as parent books would complement this new book by Barrie Summy. Poor Emily feels compelled to live in the woods and abandoned houses to avoid the mean girls at school and save her family from their threats. Parents need to have resources on how to help their tweens during this period when their tween becomes silent and distant. It is a difficult period for both parents and children alike. Having resources available is one way to help everyone survive those awkward years.
In the classroom:
This book brings up a national sensation: cyber-bullying. In the book, Raine and Shirlee use the words of text messaging to catch Jennifer being mean and then expose her for the bully she is. These two characters illustrated how girls like Jennifer can irritably damage self-esteem. To help students define their own abilities, research a person in your curriculum: i.e. Robert Frost-English, Albert Einsteen-Science/History, William Jones-Math, Dmitri Mendeleev-Science. Write three words on the board: Popularity, Power and Leadership. Define the differences. Establish where their famous person is based on the defined definitions. It would be better to use their definitions than those from a dictionary. Help them define where they are based on their own definitions. Help them know when those three words are being used in the negative. Great conversations can help students have the courage to come forward when bullying occurs.
Common Core Standards are being achieved in research, analysis, communication and synthesis of information.
The Disappearance of Emily H by Barrie Summy (Delacorte Books for Young Readers | 9780385739436 | May 12, 2015)