Judy has the misfortune to be the headmaster’s daughter in her primary school and bright to boot. The title echoes the classroom taunt flung by Judy’s schoolmates, egged on by the resident class bullies – chief among them, Angie.
Angie has annexed Judy’s friend, Sue from nursery days and gradually ensures that her ostracism at school is complete. Soon Judy is showing the classic signs of bullying: psychosomatic illness, withdrawal at home and school and chronic loss of confidence. But she is not the only one to suffer: when Joshua, a newcomer from Ghana arrives, he receives similar treatment. Judy’s grandmother, her only confidante, encourages her to befriend Joshua, which she does with mixed results.
Events soon pitch the pair into the apparent role of school troublemakers and truants and both Judy’s teacher, Mr Franklin, and her father show a remarkable lack of empathy. Initially, I found their intolerance and extreme emotional ‘illiteracy’ unconvincing. However, as the story progresses there are definite hints that Mr Fuller, at least, is showing signs of stress (by the story’s end he is on a sabbatical) and no doubt, John Bartholomew, an ex-schoolteacher, has tales to tell.
Judy’s confidence returns sufficiently for her to turn up at Sue’s party, to which she is the only uninvited guest and witness Angie’s discomfiture as the latter receives a dose of her own medicine. Before Angie is completely routed, however, there are more school trials and misunderstandings to negotiate for both Judy and Joshua.
Written in a direct and accessible style, You Love Judy Fuller will be a useful addition to a classroom’s collection of titles on bullying. While it lacks shade and subtlety, it shows a clear understanding of the dynamics of the classroom and a marked sympathy with children’s difficulties in communicating their troubles to adults. This title will offer solace to children in Judy’s position and also suggest some coping strategies.