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For Readers Age 10 - 14
Grades 6th - 10th

Bubba and Giganto: odds against us
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Publisher's Description:

Schizas, Lea. (2008) Bubba and Giganto: Odds against us. OK: 4RV publishing, LLC. ISBN-10: 0979751365. Publisher recommends 6th grade and up. Litland agrees, although content can be appropriate for younger advanced readers (note one profane word)

He hates his name, Bubba, because it gives bullies an excuse to pick on him, especially when he starts at a new school. So what does Bubba do the first day he steps off the bus? Bumps into the biggest kid there. However, instead of slugging the new comer, Giganto, as Bubba calls David, becomes his friend. Are they ever different: quiet, non-confrontational Giganto and tough with a temper Bubba. But David has a secret -- a dangerous secret. Bullying Giganto seems the norm at school, 'til Bubba steps in. After some exchanges of words between the bullies and Bubba and a soccer challenge, Giganto's deadly secret will be revealed. (4RV Publishing)


Respect for self and others:This includes integrity (adherence to a code of conduct or value system), honesty vs. manipulation or lying, compassion, caring for others (characters not focused on getting their way no matter what) self respect--main character does not let others denigrate him or her; use of self control and self-discipline ; taking charge of own behaviour; fairness to others (such as taking turns and avoiding the blame game). Reader should ask themselves “How does the protagonist depict their peers?” “Would you want others to treat you this way? Should everyone act this way?” This includes true friendships that do not involve regular lying, deceit or manipulation; considering consequences of actions prior to acting; owning up to responsibility once an action has been taken.

Giganto is sensitive and caring, which Bubba often forgets until he has clearly embarrassed his friend. But Bubba shows remorse each time. Rather than selfishly keeping Giganto as a friend for self-protection purposes, Bubba helps Giganto improve his skills so he can compete against the bullies. Bubba starts out simply admiring Giganto for his size in hopes that will reduce his own chances of being bullied. But he learns to love him as a true best friend. Through Giganto’s example, Bubba reflects upon his own past antics and learns hard lessons. Later on, other characters show concerned action when least expected.

Portrayal of Authority figures:The positive portrayal of parents, teachers, police officers and other “good” authority figures common in a child’s life is a positive influence upon the child’s own moral development. This includes actively-parenting mother and father figures. Minimization of parental involvement in the character’s activities or the portrayal of authority figures as inferior present poor role models. Also to be avoided are main characters that deceive parents and teachers to accomplish goals, and overuse sarcasm towards authority figures. Ask yourself “Are parents seen as positive or negative influence in the character's life?”

Entertainment today often portray adults as blind to the meanness between kids happening openly around them. In this story, the adults take action such as when Mr. A. shoos bullies off the soccer field. They also take action to guide interpersonal relationships, mentoring kids along in their friendships and encouraging them towards goals. Excellent example of the responsibility of adults to watch out for kids and aid in their formation.

Bubba’s occasional self-talk about his mom or parents is normal for the age and lends a realistic tone to this story. As the story unveils, his mom’s wisdom is put to use.

Citizenship and Patriotism:Loyalty to family, team or group, school, community and world; caring for and being considerate of these groups. Pride to be part of that group or nationality.

Bubba and David are new in their friend-relationship but loyal to one another, demonstrating old-fashioned brotherhood. Eventually other boys join up and the sense of teamwork is strong. 

Justice and Balance:a just distribution between good and evil (with good outweighing evil in the presence of the storyline); demonstration of right and wrong; making decisions to enact the above values rather than simply choosing from two bad possibilities; Ask yourself “Is the emphasis on the positive elements or negative?”

How does good prevail over evil? In this book, it is often by David the Giganto being kind, respectful or indifferent to the negative behaviours of others. And the coach, Mr. A., watching over the kids to prevent things from getting out of hand. Good prevails over evil when characters make good choices, or make good things come out of bad choices. This book demonstrates it with a very realistic storyline.

Aesthetic Aspects of Life Experience:Look for a storyline portrayal of beauty, health, and selfless love vs. hedonistic behaviours (sexuality, selfishness, obsessiveness, materialism), profanity, gore and violence. Are nature and environment respected or exploited? Look for dark elements; watch out for humor that is negative, denigrates others excessively, uses metaphors to denigrate the sacred.

The descriptions of lunch room situations and soccer field work-outs are realistic, allowing the reader to project themselves into the story. Meanness is portrayed straight as it is. The book focuses on the feelings and lessons learned as a result of bullying rather than overly-focusing on the bad behaviors. Thus, we can relate to the wonderment and tensions of this 9th grade boy. Surprisingly, however, near the end there is one use of the word axxxole; using the term “jerk” would have been just as effective.  

Other Things to Consider:Other aspects of this book of interest or importance. For example, does it portray Wiccan practices and accurate use of tools of which some parents might object, does it contain hidden meanings in metaphors that may prove offensive to some families; does it address personal issues such as puberty or pregnancy.

Nothing to worry about here. A straightforward story of middle-school angst and the brotherly love of true friendship. This is an excellent book which has many uses in the family and classroom. See our commentary for ideas.

So what do YOU think? Read our thoughts on the book and join in the discussion at Litland.com's Blog!

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