Some of you may remember what it felt like to be bullied. The nervous hands, the nausea that seemed to gnaw at the pit of your stomach whenever you thought about what you’d face the next day at school. And the overwhelming urge to run… run anywhere… as long as it was far, far away from the people you were afraid of.
Bitopia tells a story about a boy named Stewart who is continuously bullied. It begins with him running and you run with him, dodging the shadows of his fear, clinging onto the hope he would make it home before they caught up with him. Though while fleeing, Stewart winds up in an unknown and mysterious land occupied by children and hunted by vile creatures. He learns that all the children had wound up there, having built a safe haven for themselves, after running from bullies. Stewart learns that the key to finding his way home lies in facing his worst fears or risk being trapped in Bitopia forever.
Ali Magnusson is a very compelling storyteller. The words seem to ripple through the pages into your own memories and keeps the quick pace and suspense of a well written novel. It also has bits of humor, stories about kids can’t be absent of that! Even though it is written as a young adult novel, I think many adults would find it driven and entertaining.
When you run from bullies, you never know where you might wind up…
Bitopia is a wonderland of fantastical foliage and mysterious creatures. It’s also a place where Venators lurk, vile creatures that relentlessly hunt children. So the children of Bitopia, the only human inhabitants, are forced to live in a high-walled city for protection, a medieval metropolis of cold and shadow where time passes but no one ages, a place of no escape.
Like all the other children of Bitopia, Stewart arrives there unexpectedly while fleeing from bullies. And, like all Newcomers, Stewart dreams of finding a way back home. Risking exile from the city and the protection that it offers, Stewart and Cora, his Finder, discover a clue to escaping, one that presents them with a terrible choice: face their greatest fear and risk death, or be trapped in Bitopia forever.
There is also a Guide that was created to go along with the book, to understand bullying and how to make it stop. Although it was created mainly for classrooms and/or homes that integrate school curricula, I think it is also a great guide for parents as well.
You can PREVENT AND STOP BULLYING on your own! Understanding Bullying and Ways to Make It STOP! is a guide that empowers students by explaining what bullying is in simple, clear language and providing a comprehensive set of approaches and techniques that students can use, with or without adult help, to prevent and stop bullying. Each topic in the guide is accompanied by humorous illustrations and thought-provoking questions to reinforce the lessons and relate the information to readers’ own bullying situations.
I had read Bitopia and then I allowed my son to read it so that we could go over parts of it from the guide. He was bullied from Kindergarten through 7th Grade, so he emphasizes with the story of Stewart very well and got pulled into the book quite fast.
The guide discusses the Who, What, Where, Why and How of bullying at school as well as on social media platforms and conflict resolution, amongst other topics. It can be used as a stand alone guide as well, but I found the discussions on the Bitopia opened up a great amount of conversation between my teen and I.
Connect: You can learn more about Biopia and the Guide on Ali Magnusson’s website!