I first picked up James Roy's middle grade book Max Quigley: Technically Not a Bully for my son because the cover reminded me of the The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. I'm a marketing departments dream come true. I read Max Quigley and it it reminds me of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid inside the covers in a few ways. It too has a highly unreliable and unsympathetic protagonist telling his own story. Both books are funny. Both books make use of sketches my the narrator. The actual stories, however, are quite different.
Max Quigley is a sixth grader at an elementary school in Australia. James Roy had me at the first use of "Mum," and kept me with his "cheeky," "mate," "posh," and "crosses." I think I clapped my hands when he referred to a school field trip as an "excursion." Back to Max. He's a bully even though he rationalizes that he isn't because "Bullies wait behind lunch sheds and steal kids' Twinkies. I've never stolen anything in my life. Bullies beat people up. I've never actually punched anyone in my entire life." Nevertheless, Max is a bully and his parents are at the end of their rope when he turns his attention on an extremely shy and awkward classmate named Triffin Nordstrom, "Nerdstrom" to Max. When the boys' parents arrange that Triffin will tutor Max and Max will spend time playing with Triffin on the weekends, it is interesting and funny to watch Max take baby steps towards compassion and reformation. The ending reminds me a great deal of the film version of Nick Hornby's About A Boy when Hugh Grant's (rather cheeky)character accompanies the very awkward Simon onstage at a school talent show to sing "Killing Me Softly."
I'm sure my ten year old son will enjoy Max Quigley: Technically Not a Bully as it is a good choice for third through sixth grade readers.