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B.U.G. (Big Ugly Guy) Hardcover – March 21, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-7-Sammy Greenburg, 13, is tired of feeling scared and alone, and of being beaten up and tormented by a gang of bullies known as the Boyz. When he meets a new student who shares his interest in music, he is thrilled to have someone to call a friend. His joy is short-lived, however, when Skink is badly injured by the Boyz. Sammy decides that he and Skink need protection, so he creates a golem from clay, a mythical bodyguard from Jewish folklore. Gully soon becomes more than Sammy's protector; he becomes his friend. Despite warnings from his rabbi to destroy Gully before it's too late, Sammy revels in his newfound sense of security. While he is happier than ever, perceptive readers will sense danger ahead. A good amount of suspense is built into this story, but the plot drags at times. Readers will relate to Sammy's feelings of loneliness and frustration, but the other characters feel flat and underdeveloped. Most disappointing of all is the cringe-worthy dialogue, which seems much too young for both the characters and the intended audience. This is especially problematic when paired with advanced vocabulary and some violent content, as when one of the bullies attempts to kill him. While elements of this story may appeal to fans of magical realism, ultimately the slow pace and cheesy dialogue will disappoint most readers.-Liz Overberg, Darlington Middle School, Rome, GAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

With his potter father always looking for the ideal place to set up a kiln, Sammy Greenberg moves frequently. Ensconced in a new middle school, he becomes the brunt of bullying from James Lee and his eighth-grade gang—for example, his head is quite often inside the boys’ restroom toilet. It is a pleasant surprise when Skink (short for Skinner) enters Sammy’s grade. In his first Hebrew class, Sammy gets the idea of making a clay golem to protect Skink and himself from the bullies. Little do they know the adventures (good and bad) they will have after Gully (B.U.G.) comes alive, and through Gully, the boys learn the power of friendship and acceptance. In the end, Sammy must also take responsibility for destroying the golem. Yolen and Stemple weave a magical coming-of-age story that addresses the themes of bullying, friendship, good versus evil, first crushes, and making good decisions. Pair these with James Patterson’s series for middle-schoolers. Grades 4-6. --J. B. Petty
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 700L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (March 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525422382
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525422389
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,551,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born and raised in New York City, Jane Yolen now lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. She attended Smith College and received her master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. The distinguished author of more than 170 books, Jane Yolen is a person of many talents. When she is not writing, Yolen composes songs, is a professional storyteller on the stage, and is the busy wife of a university professor, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother. Active in several organizations, Yolen has been on the Board of Directors of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, was president of the Science Fiction Writers of America from 1986 to 1988, is on the editorial board of several magazines, and was a founding member of the Western New England Storytellers Guild, the Western Massachusetts Illustrators Guild, and the Bay State Writers Guild. For twenty years, she ran a monthly writer's workshop for new children's book authors. In 1980, when Yolen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree by Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, the citation recognized that "throughout her writing career she has remained true to her primary source of inspiration--folk culture." Folklore is the "perfect second skin," writes Yolen. "From under its hide, we can see all the shimmering, shadowy uncertainties of the world." Folklore, she believes, is the universal human language, a language that children instinctively feel in their hearts. All of Yolen's stories and poems are somehow rooted in her sense of family and self. The Emperor and the Kite, which was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1983 for its intricate papercut illustrations by Ed Young, was based on Yolen's relationship with her late father, who was an international kite-flying champion. Owl Moon, winner of the 1988 Caldecott Medal for John Schoenherr's exquisite watercolors, was inspired by her husband's interest in birding. Yolen's graceful rhythms and outrageous rhymes have been gathered in numerous collections. She has earned many awards over the years: the Regina Medal, the Kerlan Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Society of Children's Book Writers Award, the Mythopoetic Society's Aslan Award, the Christopher Medal, the Boy's Club Jr. Book Award, the Garden State Children's Book Award, the Daedalus Award, a number of Parents' Choice Magazine Awards, and many more. Her books and stories have been translated into Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Afrikaans, !Xhosa, Portuguese, and Braille. With a versatility that has led her to be called "America's Hans Christian Andersen," Yolen, the child of two writers, is a gifted and natural storyteller. Perhaps the best explanation for her outstanding accomplishments comes from Jane Yolen herself: "I don't care whether the story is real or fantastical. I tell the story that needs to be told."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on July 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
There doesn't seem to be a genre that Jane Yolen is not a master of. In this book for a middle-grade audience, she addresses the theme of bullying in a unique way. Our hero, Sammy Greenburg, is a nerd with few friends--at least until he meets a new student known as Skink. While trying to outsmart the local bullies, they form a unique band that plays klezmer/jazz/pop/rock fusion, along with the cutest girl in their class, Julia. But when the bullies beat up Skink for humiliating them in the cafeteria, Sammy decides he needs more help to defend himself and his friend, and who better than a golem, a mythical Jewish Frankenstein-type monster. Coincidentally Sammy's dad is a sculptor, so Sammy has access to great quantitites of clay from which to sculpt the golem, and he brings him to life with the help of a book he steals from the local rabbi's office when studying for his bar mitzvah. Sammy is thrilled when the golem goes to school with him and even becomes the drummer in their band. But too much power can be as much of a problem as being powerless--can the Golem be controlled or will he have to be destroyed? An original take on bullying, this is a terrific novel that could be enjoyed by boys or girls.
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By Nicole Levesque on June 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
B.U.G. (Big Ugly Guy) by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
Dutton Children's Books, 2013
Realistic Fiction with a splash of Fantasy/Folklore
Recommended for grades 4-8
344 pages

Sammy is bullied. Badly. The fact that he always has a snarky comment on his lips doesn't sit well with the lead bully, James Lee. After one too many dunks in the toilet, Sammy would do anything to not be James Lee and the Boyz' target. One evening at Hebrew lessons Sammy notices a book on the Rabbi's shelf. The book is about golems. Sammy knows a golem is made of clay and protects the creator. Stealing the book, Sammy decides to make his own golem.
The relationships between Sammy and the friends he makes, the golem he creates, and the bullies he fears, feel very natural, despite the fact that one of the above is made from clay.
I love the words Sammy uses. As he uses a good word, either spoken or in thought, he often thinks to himself how cool the word is, usually defining it, giving young readers lots of exposure to high level vocabulary throughout the story-and not in a preachy way!
I loved this story!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Seriously. I read something about this book on John Scalzi's blog, and the phrase "klezmer garage band" was used. After I stopped laughing, I ordered the book. I was not disappointed! It's one of the most fun YA books I've read in a while!
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