cover image The Bad News Bully

The Bad News Bully

Marcia Leonard. Minstrel, $3.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-54188-0

When Natalie's younger brother Cody gets an unsightly buzz haircut the day before starting kindergarten, she knows that facing his classmates won't be nearly as challenging as enduring the ride to school on Bus Five, ""the worst bus in the history of Maple Street School."" And she's right. Hank, the tale's villain, wastes no time yanking Cody's hat off his head, calling him a ""midget bald old man"" and causing the poor kid to spill his ant farm all over the bus floor. As this first volume of the The Kids on Bus Five series bumps along, Natalie and fellow third-grader James mastermind several plans to reform nasty Hank, who eventually gets his requisite comeuppance. That this scoundrel gets away with as much as he does strains the plot's credibility, even though the banter here is believable enough. Given the debut book's slight plot and the limitations of the series' setting, it may be difficult to keep this line rolling along. Ages 7-9. (Aug.)