Alley Oops
Written by Janice Levy
Illustrated by Cynthia Decker
From School Library Journal
"...The watercolor cartoons are lively and have contemporary details. ...the book may be useful to help initiate
discussion on this important topic." – Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD

From Children's Literature
Jonathan Jason Jax (aka J.J.) is a bully. He has plenty of hurtful names for Patrick Montgomery, the new,
somewhat overweight boy in town, and Patrick is afraid to go to school. When Patrick’s dad stops by the Jax
residence to discuss the problem with J.J.’s dad, J.J. learns a valuable lesson about name-calling and hurting
people’s feelings. His dad tells him a story about his own experience being the school bully and how it came back
to haunt him many years later. He also shares a piece of advice his own father taught him about the good and bad
“dogs” inside us all and how the one who gets fed the most is the one the world will see. J.J.’s mad and pays a
visit to “Pig Pen,” as he likes to call Patrick. Eventually, however, he realizes he has more in common with Patrick
than he has known! Both boys have bratty little sisters, dads who tell long-winded stories, and a love for arm
wrestling. When Patrick demonstrates his unbeatable arm wrestling moves, J.J. is impressed and decides to
become his promoter and manager. It is the love of this sport that bonds these pre-teens and provides the
opportunity for Jonathan Jax to start feeding his good dog more often. -Kelly Roque

From Baltimore's Child
J.J. is just having fun teasing the new boy in school. But then one parent calls another, and J.J. gets and interesting
lecture about the long-term effects of teasing from his father. This intervention makes him reconsider, and J.J.
finds out that the new boy, Patrick, is a very cool person inside. Good illustrations by C.B. Decker capture the
awkward adolescent yearning for acceptance and righteousness. - Kate Marley

From Lee Littlewood, Kid's Home Library, Copley News Service
Giving guides help youngsters deal with emotional issues
Many of the most sought after children's books are those that help younsters deal with emotional issues. These
new books tackle shyness, bullies, worries, baby sitters and tantrums. Parents, caregivers and teachers who need
caring, empathetic guides to kids' behaviors should consider these.
Bullying is more dangerous than ever before. This lighthearted picture book tells of a father who's discovered his
son is calling an overweight boy names. Instead of yelling and criticizing, Dad relates a bully story from his own
childhood, prompting young J.J. to think and react, eventually bonding with the other boy over arm wrestling and
annoying-sister stories.
One quote from J.J.'s dad is especially helpful - "Your grandpa used to say we have two dogs inside of us, one
good and one bad, that fight all the time. The one that wins is the one you feed the most."
"Alley Oops" is important, and can help bullies understand the impact of their hurtful behavior.
(Printed in The Repository of Canton, Ohio, May 15, 2005)

From Diane Chen, SLJ Blogger, on Practically Paradise
Bullies? Anyone have problems with bullying in your school? If you said, "no," you are either lying to me or
clueless. Bullying is the biggest problem kids talk about in school. They don't obsess that they don't have the
designer clothes or mechanical pencils. They worry because someone is being mean to them or their friends and
they don't know how to respond.
But what about the bully's side of things? Have you considered helping bullies to transform and to empower
themselves to stop? You will after reading Alley Oops by Janice Levy and illustrated by CB Decker. Be sure to read
Janice' interviews for insights into the deeper themes of Alley Oops. This title was released in 2005 and showed up
on some of the bully lists I read, but I hadn't held it in my hands until today.
Could I plead having a limited budget as my only reason for not having this title? Not convinced? How about that I
simply never saw this book or had access to it? Does that sound more realistic? Okay, I'm only human. I can't
read every single review out there and still play with the www.FlashlightPress.comkittens. To make up for it, let
make sure you have this in your collection.
I particularly enjoyed the illustrations where the much larger boys seems intimidated by the bully. Having four sons
I appreciated the arm wrestling in this title. I can remember trying to arm wrestle my brothers. I was a little
concerned at J.J.'s transformation as being too quick and less than perfect, but in her interview Janice Levy
responds to this well. You'll have to go read the interview yourself, I can't tell you everything.
I was able to see her point. Some people hold on to grudges their entire life. Is it because I am a girl that I can
recite every time my ex-husband said something that hurt my feelings? Nah...When my sons are angry with each
other, they settle things much more quickly and move on from it as friends. But, when it comes to bullying
episodes, they remember every one they've experienced.
Hopefully you will share this with students and families. I particularly like the humorous approach the author uses
to communicate between the generations. You'll recognize yourself there.

From Betty Dravis, Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer
As I've said before, I just adore all the children's picture books in FLASHLIGHT PRESS's catalog. I've already
reviewed several of them and my aim is to review as many as possible because these books are perfect for the
children in your life aged 4 to 8.
With that in mind, I checked their on-line catalog. I had a hard time choosing between Alley Oops and Carla's
Sandwich. I decided on Alley Oops because it's a different kind of "bully" story and because my neighbor's son
has just had his first run-in with a bully--an age-old problem that has more repercussions than bullies realize until
often too late.
In this book Mr. Jax is surprised that his son J. J. has been bullying an overweight boy named Patrick, calling him
bad names like Pig-Pen and Porky. When Patrick starts having nightmares, his father asks Mr. Jax to speak to J.J.
The boy excuses himself, saying he was just having fun. How does Mr. Jax handle this situation? What does he tell
his son to make him understand how bullying can really hurt a person, causing long-lasting problems, often ruining
the other person's life? Does J. J. listen to his father, then try to make amends to Patrick? If so, how does Patrick
react? And what plan do they come up with that ends up influencing everyone at their school?
As this author weaves her interesting, timely story, she deftly answers all those questions and more. This topic
may seem a little above the children's heads, but the book is so well-written and easy to follow that they should
easily get the message. Furthermore, parents and educators can use this book to open discussion on this important
topic and help the children further understand the impact of their words on others.
The message in this book can be used to build self-esteem and long-lasting friendships. In addition to being
educational, Alley Oops by gifted writer Janice Levy is entertaining and enhanced by colorful, meaningful
illustrations by the talented artist Cynthia Decker.
Very highly recommended.

From The Horn Book Guide
After J.J.'s dad scolds him for teasing an overweight boy named Patrick, J.J. confronts Patrick about tattling. The
two end up bonding over a mutual passion for wrestling, and irritation with parental lectures... The watercolor
illustrations are well composed...

One of 25 Top Character Education Books
Alley Oops was chosen as one of the Top 25 Character Education books by Character Education trainer of trainers
Barbara Gruener, on The Character Education Partnership website. Character education is a nationwide movement
encouraging schools to create environments that foster ethical, responsible, and caring young people. It is the
intentional, proactive effort by schools, districts, and states to instill in their students important core, ethical values
that all people share, such as caring, honesty, fairness, responsibility, and respect for self and others. The CEP is a
national advocate and leader for this character education movement. Based in Washington, D.C., they are a
nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian coalition of organizations and individuals committed to fostering effective
character education in the nation's K-12 schools. See, click on Resources, then click on
Character Education (CE) Blog (both links are on the left), then look to the right for a link called CE Books.
Barbara's Top 25 Character Education Books list is half way down the first page. Two other Flashlight Press
books, Getting to Know Ruben Plotnick (0972922555) and The Only One Club (0972922539) are also included on
this Top 25 list.

The Six Pillars
Alley Oops is also included in a list of Children's Books That Illustrate the Six Pillars [of character education:
Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship] on Character This list,
originally compiled by Kate Harrington of the Albuquerque Public library, indicates which of the Six Pillars of
Character is most strongly emphasized in each book. Alley Oops is listed as emphasizing Respect. For the full list,

From the Curriculum Connections of the ADL
(featured in Winter 2005: Using Children's Literature to Address Bullying, and  included in the ADL's Annotated
Bibliography of Children's Fiction on Bullying)
Named for that "alley oops!" moment when a child experiences the empowerment that comes from doing the right
thing, this story relates the aftermath of bullying from the perspective of the bully. J.J. Jax has been tormenting an
overweight boy, Patrick, who is now afraid to go to school. After Mr. Jax tells J.J. a story about when he acted as
a bully and how sorry he feels now, J.J. bikes over to Patrick's house to talk things over. J.J. is surprised to
discover how much he and Patrick have in common, including the sport of arm-wrestling. Trounced at the table, J.
J. is impressed with Patrick's "hammer hand" and decides to become his manager. The boys' shared interest in
arm-wrestling becomes the conduit for resolution and budding friendship.

Alley Oops is included in a list of bibliotherapy books on bullying for grades 1-3 in the Unionville Chadds Ford
(PA) School District. The summary states "Named for that 'alley oops!' moment when a child experiences the
empowerment that comes from doing the right thing, this story relates the aftermath of bullying from the
perspective of the bully." See the entire bibliography at

From Barbara Gruener
Cleverly illustrated by CB Decker, this picture book tackles bullying, an age-old problem with devastatingly painful
effects. Meet J.J. Jax, the bully in this story. Travel with him as he faces the consequences of his father finding
out about his bullying behavior. See what his father has to say about his own brush with bullying. Get to know J.
J.'s victim, Patrick, who no longer wants to go to school because of J.J.'s relentless taunting and teasing. Find out
what happens when J.J. goes to Patrick to make amends. Can a bully and his victim find common ground solid
enough to build a friendship?
The author of this little gem delicately weaves in the parable of the two dogs inside each of us, representing the
good and the bad, constantly at battle. When J.J. asks his father which one wins, he wisely responds, "the one you
feed the most." What a beautiful illustration of the power of choice. Check out this book; it will empower your
children to wrestle with big choices and take a look at their own actions and reactions.
(Barbara Gruener is a Counselor at Westwood Elementary in Friendswood, TX, and writer of a guidance webpage
on See to read her article on The Golden
Rule, which included this review.)

From Rebecca Reads
JJ torments Patrick, who is overweight.
Sticks & stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me. Yeah, right. Sure. Who made that one up?
Alley Oops tells the story of the painful & humiliating aftermath of name-calling & bullying.
JJ's a skinny boy with a very sharp tongue & a nose for weakness, who's dug his teeth into making Patrick's days
at school miserable by calling attention to Patrick's size & calling him mean names. Now Patrick is a big boy, with
a soft heart. JJ's harassed him to the point he's scared to go to school.
When JJ's dad hears of his son's bullying, he first lectures him, which doesn't impress JJ one bit. So Dad takes
him aside & tells the story of when he was a kid... & a bully, & the consequences he only recently had to face
because of what he'd done back then.
Now JJ is impressed, so much so, he jumps on his bike & heads over to Patrick's home to see if he can patch
things up. There he discovers how much they have in common: little sisters who can do no wrong, & a passion
for arm-wrestling ...and JJ experiences the Alley Oops feeling of empowerment & self-esteem which comes from
doing the right thing.
With snappy dialogue & marvelous pictures focusing on the harmful & lasting effects of bullying, & the
importance of finding common ground toward conflict resolution, Alley Oops is a teaching story that needs to be
read, again & again.
For ages 7-13

From on
Alley Oops is a funny and emotional read about how JJ so torments Patrick that he stays away from school. You
kind of get the picture of a ferocious little terrier dog, barking at an elephant's heels.
Then JJ's father tells him a story about how he too was a bully & what happened to the boy he tormented.
Impressed, JJ goes off to Patrick's home to sort things out, only to discover how alike they are, especially in their
passion for arm wrestling.
Pretty soon, they come up with a way to win friends & influence everyone at school, JJ is going to be Patrick's,
the "Hammer Hand", manager.
With snappy dialogue & marvelous pictures... Alley Oops... needs to be read, again and again. - Rebecca Brown

From Nashville Parent Magazine
Patrick is the new kid in school, and to make matters worse, he’s overweight. J.J. calls him mean names and plays
horrible tricks on him. One day J.J.’s father tells him a story about how he used to bully a kid in school and what
happened as a result. After hearing about it, J.J. makes a wise decision and to his surprise, ends up being good
friends with Patrick. - Jennifer Lee
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