Newbery award-winning Betsy Byars is a legend for writing books that get to the nitty-gritty of tween/teen inner anxiety. The 18th Emergency is one of her classics that deal with how to survive the class bully. It is a great book to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.


The 18th Emergency was first published way back in 1973, even though so much time has passed the problem of dealing with bullies endures. Your students will get a chuckle out of some of the dated content in the age of TV without remotes before the internet and cordless phones. The core of the story is modern though, the small, anxiety-filled kid who tries to stay under the radar makes a mistake and the consequences are threats from the class bully, Marv Hammerman.

From the Book Jacket:

So what if Benjie “Mouse” Fawley likes practical jokes? He’s a good kid who never meant to harm anyone. The same cannot be said for Marv Hammerman, a boy in Benjie’s middle school who is as big as a high-schooler but has the temper of a two-year-old. When Benjie (in a fit of insanity) writes a joke about Marv for all to see, he soon realizes he’s stumbled into the biggest emergency he’s ever faced. Now Benjie must decide whether to stay at school and face a clobbering, or run off and live the rest of his life hiding in the woods. The 18th Emergency is a hilarious account of the trials of surviving the school bully.

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Students of all kinds can find something to relate to in this book. Byars doesn’t give us the “happily ever after” ending we find so often when the underdog triumphs and the bully learns the error of their ways. Instead, Byars does what she does best and sticks to a more realistic ending, one that students can relate to and identify with and at the same time leave them laughing with Benjie and all his emergency scenarios.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany The 18th Emergency for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

You can purchase this novel study at the following locations:

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