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The 18th Emergency Paperback – July 30, 1981
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"My favourite children's book ever is probably The Eighteenth Emergency by Betsy Byars. It's funny, it's sad, it's Magical Storytelling. And yet there are no explosions, no flying castles, no aliens plotting to take over Norway. It's just the small story of a cheeky boy who's in trouble with the school bully. But you really care about that boy. You feel you know him. You're right there rooting for him." -- Andy Stanton "A beautiful, poignant and funny story of school bullies and how to deal with them." -- Chris Riddell "The best bullying story ever, Betsy Byars's The Eighteenth Emergency manages to be very funny indeed without for a moment under-estimating its horrors or significance of the victim's feelings as he struggles for survival." -- Julia Eccleshare Books for Keeps "I have read The Eighteenth Emergency many times over the years, and it remains to me wholly contemporary and not dated in any way. I still think this is one of the best children's books ever written." -- Lauren Child "Betsy Byars' close perception of children's feelings and brilliant observation of their conversation are evident in all her work" Junior Education --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
First, she married and started a family. The writing career didn't emerge until she was 28, a mother of two children, and living in a small place she called the barracks apartment, in Urbana, Illinois. She and her husband, Ed, had moved there in 1956 so he could attend graduate school at the University of Illinois. She was bored, had no friends, and so turned to writing to fill her time. Byars started writing articles for The Saturday Evening Post, Look,and other magazines. As her family grew and her children started to read, she began to write books for young people and, fortunately for her readers, discovered that there was more to being a writer than sitting in front of a typewriter.
"Making up stories and characters is so interesting that I'm never bored. Each book has been a different writing experience. It takes me about a year to write a book, but I spend another year thinking about it, polishing it, and making improvements. I always put something of myself into my books -- something that happened to me. Once a wanderer came by my house and showed me how to brush my teeth with a cherry twig; that went in The House of Wingscopyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
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I think the suthor has a great way of writing children's books-she doesn't talk down to kids, but she relates Mouse's thoughts and feelings in the way a child can relate to. Also, i like how it gives a good perspective on urban life.
If anything, i don't like how disinterested Benji's mother was, but sadly many parents just don't take enough time for their kids
Apparently, however, not everyone catches Byars' perceptive humor, though this book is an amusement park of wonderful wit. If you don't find her funny, then it is probable that the story will not hold your attention. Most of the book stays inside of Mouse's (the protagonist) head, so if you aren't charmed by Mouse, then you will quickly lose interest.
My reaction was one of complete enthrallment in Mouse's perception of and grappling with his predicament. Byars draws the supporting cast and environment of her heroes with the familiarity and perspective of their ages. I frequently find myself laughing in recognition and remembrance of similar childhood perceptions and people. Her humor, also, runs freely and easily and frequently and compellingly.
Don't let this author pass you by. The 18th Emergency is a wonderful introduction to her, and a must for familiar fans!
Benjie, aka Mouse, likes to write funny notes with arrows pointing to things. On a crack in the wall of his apartment building he wrote "To open building, tear along this line" and, on a picture of a Neanderthal man, he wrote the name of the school bully. Now he's running for his life, certain that Marv Hammerman will kill him when he catches him! Benjie and his friend, Ezzie, once created a list of emergencies and solutions but none of that prepared him for this emergency. Boa constrictors and gorillas, maybe, but not Hammerman.
In the end, Benjie learns a little about honor and realizes that even bullies have feelings that can be hurt. What he does to make right what he's done wrong takes all the courage he's got. Really not as awful as other reviewers would have you believe - the worst of the book is Benjie's mother's apparent lack of interest in her son, but even that is something most kids can relate to on some level.