Review by Olivia Piper and Sophia Graham
Bullies and warriors
Tim Tipene (2012). New Zealand: Oratia Books.
In this novel Tim Tipene depicts the reality of bullying-and strategies to address it-for children on both sides of the problem. It addresses bullying head-on, and weaves practical solutions into a universal story.

In Tim Tipene’s book Bullies and Warriors, a group of children – bullies and the bullied – are chosen to participate in a ten-week course called Warrior Kids.

Lead by their teacher, Papa Tim, the children spend their Wednesday afternoons playing games and completing challenges, all while following the Warrior Kids creed to be safe, nice to others, careful with the earth, to practise self-control, and remember they are loved and treasured.

Tipene has cast himself in the book as Papa Tim, and the book is seen through the eyes of Sean, a boy who finds primary school a misery because of his bully, Mark Thomas. When both children are chosen to be one of the fourteen kids to participate in Warrior Kids, they both have to learn to be kind and respectful to each other.

I found the book a very quick and easy read, but as I’m not the target audience, I asked nine-year-old Olivia Piper to read it too, so I could understand the book through her eyes.

Olivia felt that the book was quite slow to start with, and didn’t have the same amount of adventure, excitement, and silliness as the books she is used to reading like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Scream Street series.

Olivia easily related to the main message of Bullies and Warriors. She saw that the main bullies, Mark and Eric, weren’t the only ones who didn’t act like Warrior Kids all the time.

Sean’s friend, Apihana, had a sharp tongue and while Olivia knew that Apihana mostly just wanted to stick up for her friends, she thought it was fair that Apihana was punished for it because “everyone should treat people the way they want to be treated. Even if someone else isn’t being nice to you, you shouldn’t say mean things back to them".

When I asked her what the book taught her about dealing with bullies, she said that she had learned to “tell the bullies that they weren’t being nice or kind, and if they didn’t stop, to go and find a safe adult to help you".

Olivia liked the way that the bully, Mark, changed because of what he learned in the course. She thought the book would be helpful to kids who are bullied and kids who are bullies.

Olivia said that a bully reading this would be able to tell how “sad, scared, and upset Sean was when he was being bullied, and realise they weren’t being very nice”. Olivia would “really like to do Warrior Kids” because they “do fun things like play chain tag, roll tag, and get to wrestle”.

She said the best thing was all these games were safe and fun for everyone, and “teach you to work together and communicate".

I think this book would be most helpful if parents or teachers read it with children. Olivia didn’t pick up on some of the book’s deeper messages – like the reason Mark was bullying Sean – because she’s too young to comprehend them.

After she finished the book we had a great conversation about bullies and the kids who are bullied, and I think this is the best way to approach this book. It’s a great way to start a discussion about dealing with bullying in schools, and how kids can keep themselves and others safe.

Olivia gave this book three out of five stars.

Disclaimer: Please note these reviews are not intended as endorsements or recommendations from the Mental Health Foundation. This feature introduces resources that may be useful for individuals with an interest in bullying prevention, mental health and wellbeing topics.

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