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Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen
Cover of Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen
Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen
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Bernice Buttman is tough, crass, and hilarious, and she just might teach you a thing or two about empathy in this debut reminiscent of The Great Gilly Hopkins.When you're a Buttman, the label "bully"...
Bernice Buttman is tough, crass, and hilarious, and she just might teach you a thing or two about empathy in this debut reminiscent of The Great Gilly Hopkins.When you're a Buttman, the label "bully"...
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Description-

  • Bernice Buttman is tough, crass, and hilarious, and she just might teach you a thing or two about empathy in this debut reminiscent of The Great Gilly Hopkins.
    When you're a Buttman, the label "bully" comes with the territory, and Bernice lives up to her name. But life as a bully is lonely, and if there's one thing Bernice really wants (even more than becoming a Hollywood stuntwoman), it's a true friend.
    After her mom skedaddles and leaves her in a new town with her aunt (who is also a real live nun), Bernice decides to mend her ways and become a model citizen. If her plan works, she just might be able to get herself to Hollywood Hills Stunt Camp! But it's hard to be kind when no one shows you kindness, so a few cheesy pranks may still be up her sleeve. . . .
    Get ready to laugh out loud—and maybe even shed a tear—with this fantastic new middle-grade voice!

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    Here are things that I, Bernice Buttman, was awesome at. One: burping the alphabet. Two: blowing up stuff with firecrackers. Three: wearing the teachers and puny kids of Oak Grove Elementary School into nubs. I was less great at knowing what to do with myself at recess.

    I sat on top of the monkey bars, feeling like a booger on a cheese ball . . . out of place and unwelcome. Kids whirled all around me, talking to their buddies and playing games, but nobody came within arm's length of me. That was probably real smart. There was only one kid in this whole mess who I didn't want to clobber.

    Oliver Stratts stood in a small knot of kids, huddled against the wind. I stared at the back of his curly head while I swung my legs back and forth. Even though Oliver avoided me so he wouldn't get pounded like the rest of the kids, I had decided I wanted him to be my friend. He was real smart and he always smelled like name—brand laundry detergent and I'd never heard him answer a question wrong. I hoped he could be the first kid to play tag with me at recess and live to tell the tale. But how in blue blazes are you supposed to get someone to like you, anyhow?

    "Bernice!" My momma's voice cut across the playground, making my heart yank into my throat. What is she doing here?

    Momma leaned against the chain link fence, her face pressing through the metal diamonds. "Bernice Buttman, get your raggedy behind over here right this minute!"

    I felt my face go pink as heads turned to see what the commotion was about. I half fell, half flipped off the top of the monkey bars and jogged past the gawkers, one hand yanking my pants up, my other arm wiping my nose with my sleeve.

    "What are you doing here?" I hissed as soon as I was close enough to the fence. Momma was wearing pajama pants and slippers, even though it was eleven o'clock.

    "Imma need my money back," she said, digging around in her purse for something.

    "What money?" I scowled.

    "The money I gave you this morning for your lunch," she said, as though this made perfect sense.

    "But I need that money to eat!" I said, very aware of all the kids who were staring and pointing and laughing at that very second.

    Momma threw her hands in the air as though I was being completely unreasonable. "I don't know, girl! You'll figure something out. Now cough up the cash. I gotta put gas in the car and get to my tattoo appointment."

    Momma was getting me and my four older brothers' faces tattooed on her back. That was a whole lot of ugly, let me tell ya. Plus, it was so expensive she was having to shake down her daughter for lunch money.

    I pushed the two dollar bills through the wires of the fence, just so she'd hurry up and get out of there. She stuffed the money in her pocket and waved, climbing into her clunker and exiting in a puff of smoke.

    I stood there, clinging to the fence, taking deep breaths and trying to calm down. If I turned around and saw just one of those booger—eaters staring, they would be sorry.

    Sometimes I missed when I was little and all us Buttmans were here at the elementary school together. If anyone messed with me, my big brothers would pound the pudding out of them. Kids learned right from the get—go to leave me alone. And I liked it that way.

    Mostly.

    Except for at recess when your mom shows up and steals your cash and is totally embarrassing and you wish you had a friend who would share his lunch with you.

    It was time to put my plan in action.

    I...

About the Author-

  • Niki Lenz lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and children. She studied elementary education at Southwest Baptist University and taught kindergarten for six years. She enjoys reading, travel, glamping, polka dots, red lipstick, and oldies music. Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter at @NikiRLenz or visit nikilenz.com.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    December 1, 2018
    Fifth-grader Bernice has no friends due to her reputation as a fearsome bully.She lashes out at everyone, especially those who taunt her and reinforce her vision of herself as fat, ugly, and stupid. But early on readers learn other truths about her. Her four older brothers are out of control, and her mother is completely self-centered and a bully herself. Bernice doesn't even have a real bed in their cramped trailer. The public library is her only sanctuary, and the librarian encourages her to research information on the computer. She dreams of attending a stunt camp and devises a fraudulent story for a funding website, managing to raise a substantial sum--which her mother promptly steals from her to use for her own California dream. Bernice is sent to live with her aunt at St. Drogo's, a tiny church and abbey in the town of Halfway, Texas. Sister Mary Margaret, aka Aunt Josephine, is welcoming and kind, as are the other nuns. Here she is determined to become the New Bernice. There are a few hilarious glitches along the way and one very serious setback, but she makes a friend, learns to ride a horse, and saves the church from closing. Lenz employs several stereotypes in setting and characters--Bernice's family are collectively the cartoon embodiment of "poor white trash"--but Bernice is pragmatic, complex, and compelling, and she has a heart of gold.Yay for Bernice. (Fiction. 9-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist Online "A heartwarming story with plenty of gross-out humor to hook readers."
  • Publishers Weekly "Bernice's sometimes harsh home conditions and how they contribute to her unkind ways are sensitively portrayed and well balanced with humor and Bernice's spirited narration."

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    Random House Children's Books
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