Chadwick's Epic Revenge by Lisa Doan
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 4-6
Things may be looking up for newly minted sixth-grader Chadwick Musselman, since it looks like he's broken free of Terry Vance, the bully who's been tormenting him since first grade, and his plan to get closer to Jana Sedgewick by lurking at the peripheries of her social circle seems to be working. Soon, though, it all comes crashing down: Terry is assigned to Chadwick's class and he immediately befriends Jana; he successfully makes himself look sympathetic and Chadwick out to be the cruel and, perhaps, deranged one. This is played for high level hilarity with some underlying truth, but Doan's story isn't up to dealing with the undercurrents, awkwardly blurring the lines between mutual pranking and serious bullying. It's revealed that Chadwick started the conflict as a thoughtless, crayon-stealing firstgrader but has refused to ever apologize, choosing instead to mock and demonize Terry for years. Still, Terry is no angel, and he actually does seem to be trying to psychologically break down his rival, even borrowing a book on gaslighting from the library. The battle of wits between the two boys is often cleverly narrated by Chadwick, and occasional black and white line drawings help readers visualize the comically crude pranks involving (fake) severed fingers and spoiled chicken salad, [End Page 381] offering an appropriate progression for savvy fans of the Wimpy Kid series (BCCB 6/07, etc.).