Don't Feed the Bully Summary

Instructor: Erica Schimmel

Erica has taught college English writing and literature courses and has a master's degree in children's literature.

William B. Travis elementary school seems to have solved its bully problem, but things aren't always what they seem. Is the bully problem really solved? Who is the real bully here? Find out in this summary of Brad Tassell's 'Don't Feed the Bully'.

A School with a Solution

If you've ever been the victim of a bully you know how horrible it feels. Many schools have anti-bullying programs in place to help students prevent bullying. But what happens when it isn't clear who is actually doing the bullying? That's one of the questions Brad Tassell tackles in Don't Feed the Bully.

Hannibal Greatneck III, or Handy, is a very smart eleven-year-old detective. When his dad gets a new job, Handy has to transfer to William B. Travis elementary school. On his first day, Handy meets Kurt Pesterman, a nerdy-looking classmate with a superior attitude. Kurt informs Handy that he is the president of the WBT Agitator Awareness Society, and their school does not tolerate any kind of bullying.

Something seems off to Handy. Maybe it's the cage in the middle of the classroom? According to Kurt, the cage is where Ralphie sits. Ralphie apparently has ''strong bullying tendencies.''

Still, a cage seems a bit extreme. When Handy asks his teacher, Mrs. Austin, she tells him the students came up with the Agitators Society as a solution to the bullying problem. All reports of bullying go to the Society, and its members take care of punishments. More specifically, Kurt came up with the idea, recruited members, and enforced the rules he created. Things still seem off to Handy. He decides to investigate.


Nobody will answer Handy's questions. Even Ralphie advises Handy to let it go. But Handy is determined to find out what is really going on. His curiosity makes him a victim of bullying when his notebook is stolen out of his backpack by two boys in the other sixth grade class. They try to intimidate him and even punch him in the arm, but he is able to steal the hall pass sticking out of one of their pockets. When he looks at the hall pass, though, he is left with another question: why is Kurt giving out hall passes?


Handy is shaken by his encounter, but is still determined to uncover the truth. So when he receives a mysterious note telling him to meet at Mr. Fresh after school, how could he do anything but show up? To his surprise, the note was sent by Ralphie and Kayla, a cute girl in their class. They both think it's time things change in school, and wonder whether Handy has any ideas.

They explain the whole story to Handy. Kurt was bullied quite a bit last year and, unfortunately, Ralphie was often the culprit. The breaking point came when Kurt brought his ventriloquist dummy, Mr. Crumblebean, to school. Everyone teased him, but Ralphie was the one who shoved a tater tot in the dummy's mouth. After Ralphie got in trouble he tried to change his ways, but there were constant complaints against him. The final straw came when Mr. Crumblebean went missing. Kurt accused Ralphie of stealing the dummy.

When they finally found Mr. Crumblebean, he had been torn apart and the pieces thrown across the boys' locker room. Ralphie got blamed, even though he was innocent. After that, the Society was formed and Ralphie ended up in the cage. Since then, Kurt and his Society have run the school. When somebody does something they don't like, they get them in trouble.

Confronting the True Bully

Armed with this new information, Handy creates a plan to confront Kurt. At first, Kurt responds by trying to get Handy in trouble. He tries to accuse Handy of shoving him and bringing a plastic knife to school. In both cases, Handy is smart enough to stay out of trouble.

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