Bootsie Barker Bites

October 17, 2008

To tie in with yesterday’s every day happenings post, Bootsie Barker Bites by Barbara Bottner came to mind.  Bullying is a real life situation that most children are faced with sometime in their childhood.

In Bootsie Barker Bites,  Barbara Bottner has incredible insights she shares from the viewpoint of the victim.  The girl who is bullied is unnamed, so I’ll refer to her as Susan.  Susan is faced with an incredulous tormentor, Bootsie.  During each bullied situation, Barbara paints a picture of Susan’s thinking – the thinking children would relate to. Susan creates a daydream scenario of revenge she wishes on Bootsie, with a twist of humor.  We can all relate, which is the drawing point of the book.

I have used this book with fifth graders and all are interested, even the boys.  Throughout the story, the reader is cheering for Susan, empathizing with her.  The book is an excellent resource for discussion of characterization and inferring and can also enhance class community.  It’s full of possible teaching points.

Savorings in reading and for writing for Bootsie Barker Bites:

  • internal and external characterization – illustrations show physical differences between the two characters
  • grabber lead – (When Mrs. Barker comes to visit, she always brings chocolate donuts, fresh strawberries, and Bootsie.)
  • show don’t tell – (“Play nicely, girls!”  Bootsie yells, “We are!”  I can’t yell anything.)
  • visualizing – (“I picture Charlene and me being rushed to the hospital with dinosaur bites.”)
  • character emotions – (When my mother asks me what Bootsie and I would like for snacks, I can’t stand it anymore.)