Don’t Feed the Troll! by John Hickman

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Published by Award Publications, 2019.

Don’t Feed the Troll! is a cautionary tale about cyber bullying. It’s set in a secondary school and centres around a group of 12-year-olds (Year 8). Given the surge in online trolling and the prevalence of social media, this is a very topical and timely story.

Jack fancies Chloe. After his attempt to ask her out face-to-face fails, he tries again. This time, sending her a letter. He gets no reply. He feels rejected and humiliated. His response is to become an online bully. He sends spiteful anonymous messages and makes vicious videos, cowardly hiding behind a troll mask. He targets Chloe and her best friend Isaac who he suspects are laughing at him behind his back.

Very quickly the situation spirals out of control. The comments become crueller and other people join in with the bullying. It escalates to such an extent that some people even suggest that Chloe kill herself.

Deep down Jack knows what he’s doing is very wrong but his head is turned by his online notoriety and he’s driven by the number of followers and views that he’s getting. He loves the sense of power and he finally feels like he is someone.

However, the tables are turned when an actual troll begins to stalk and insult Jack. Can Jack undo the damage he’s done and will he ever be rid of the troll?

Don’t Feed the Troll! deals with important issues that are sadly very relevant to young people today. The stark reality of the dangers of online trolling is made very clear. We see the damage such behaviour causes to mental well-being, friendships and society.

Don’t Feed the Troll! will definitely engage its audience. It’s full of relatable well-drawn characters. The situations and friendship dynamics will be familiar. Jack is a nuanced character. While we deplore his behaviour, we recognise how he might get swept up with it all and can understand his feelings of rejection. Don’t Feed the Troll! will prompt children to stop and think about their online behaviour.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 10+

Thank you to Award Publications for sending me this book to review.

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