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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Tour for Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser: a book about bullying by Catherine DePino. This is a Middle Grade (8-14) fiction book available now from Book Baby Publishing. The tour will run June 16, 2014 to July 18, 2014 and this will be the first stop.

Catherine will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. 

Now I asked Catherine why she chose bullying as the theme for this book. Was she bullied herself, or does she know someone who was? As a teacher myself, this topic interest me a lot, of course.

Here are Catherine's answers:

I write books about bullying (three for children and two for parents) because I’ve witnessed a lot of bullying in city schools where I’ve worked as a teacher, department head, and disciplinarian. I also personally experienced bullying once in a Catholic high school when a group of girls I thought were my friends started teasing me and trying to frighten me with lab mice, my greatest fear. I never forgot the experience and learned from it. I learned that I had to be assertive and stand up for myself and that body language reinforces this aura of strength and confidence. Of course, when dealing with a bully, one has to strike a happy medium by appearing strong, but not combative and arrogant, which will only provoke the bully more.

Although my books address bullying that involves kids, bullying is everywhere: in schools in the workplace, in retirement communities, and in our own peaceful neighborhoods. We all need to work together to stamp out bullying. Many children and their parents feel helpless in the face of bullying. They’re not sure of where to turn or what to do. I agree with you, Nickie, that we need to motivate kids to build up their defenses. That’s what my protagonist Elliot did to cope with his bullying issues. The problems began with his being locked in a supply closet at school and continued to get worse until the bullies brutalized him by giving him a horrendous head dunk in a toilet. Elliot, like all bullied children, needed help from his family and the school community to stand up to the bullies. His mentor, Mr. Boardly, the school custodian, paved the way for Elliot to ultimately prevail over his tormentors.

In line with this, I believe that the most important factor in stamping out bullying is a team approach. Adults need to be open to the signs that kids are being bullied (withdrawal, sadness, lack of interest in activities, etc.,). However, some children show no obvious signs they’re being bullied. That’s why parents, relatives, and school personnel need to keep talking to kids openly. They need to draw them out to see if they’re experiencing any problems in school. Adults have to let kids know that they will keep their problems in confidence so that kids will feel safe talking to them. Extended trusted family members, such as grandparents, can often get kids to speak freely and can guide them in finding viable solutions to their bullying problems. In summary, a team approach to bullying gets the most results. Children cannot do it alone. They need our help and support along the way. We can help eradicate or at least minimize bullying if we all work together. 


The kids at Ralph Bunche Middle School love to pick on Elliot Kravitz-Carnucci. He struggles with his weight, looks like a geek, makes top honors, and lives above the Carnucci Home for Funerals in South Philadelphia with his distant, workaholic father and Nonna, his quirky, overbearing grandmother. 

Since his parents divorced, he splits spending his time with his funeral director father and his mother Rayna, who dreams of becoming the queen of commercials on the west coast. 

At the hands of his peers, Elliot experiences a series of bullying episodes that escalate from entrapment in a school supply closet to a brutal “swirly” (head dunk in the toilet) that lands him in the hospital emergency room. 

Elliot has a small circle of loyal friends and a mentor named Duke, an aging school custodian, who root for him to overcome his bullying issues so that he can enjoy his life as a teenager and a budding singer/performer. Can Elliot win his fight against the nasty bullies, or is he doomed forever? Read this funny, sad, and crazy book to find out. 


“Help–I can’t breathe–let me out. Somebody help...”

I pounded the inside of the musty supply closet until my knuckles turned blue. Did anybody even have the key?
What if they don’t come? What if I’m trapped here all night?
I could hear loud voices and laughing, so I knew Kyle Canfield and one of his friends from the basketball team were there, waiting to see if I would cave in and plead for mercy.
The bell blared. Classes changed. Kids stampeded through the halls. Then, silence.

Finally I heard someone shout, “I’ve got the key, Doc.” 
“Thanks, Duke,” Doc Greely, the assistant principal, said to Mr. Boardly, the man who’d sprung me loose.

Mr. Boardly, the head custodian, better known as Duke, offered me his arm, and I stumbled out of the closet. He was as thin as his mop handle, but all muscle–no flab like me. A scruffy white beard covered half his face.
He slammed the closet door shut and bolted the lock. “One of the hall guards reported noise coming from this area. We came as soon as we heard.”
Duke patted my shoulder. “Let me know if I can help, Elliot.” I could hear his keys clanging as he walked down the hall humming “Duke of Earl,” that old sixties song he loved. That’s where he got his nickname.

“Up to their old tricks again, Elliot?” Doc asked on the way to his office.

Author bio and links

Catherine DePino has sold thirteen books for parents, teachers, and children to mainstream publishers. She self-published her fourteenth book, Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser: A Book About Bullying because she wanted to give it a wider forum. Her background includes a BS in English and Spanish education, a Master’s in English education, and a doctorate in Curriculum Theory and Development and Educational Administration from Temple University. The author worked for many years as an English teacher, department head of English and world languages, disciplinarian, and curriculum writer in the Philadelphia School District. After this, she worked at Temple as an adjunct assistant professor and student teaching supervisor.

Catherine has also written articles for national magazines, including The Christian Science Monitor and The Writer.

For many years she served on the board of The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference.  She holds membership in the Association of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Her new self-help book, 101 Easy Ways for Women to De-Stress, Reinvent, and Fire Up Your Life in Retirement,appeared on the market in March, 2014.

Visit her website at


Fire Up Your Life: 101 Ways for Women to Reinvent Themselves

Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser: A Book About Bullying

Excuse Me, Your Participle’s Dangling: How to Use Grammar to Make Your Writing Powers Soar

Who Says Bullies Rule?: Common Sense Tips to Help Your Child Cope

Hi, God, It’s Me: e-prayers for teenage girls

Real Life Bully Prevention for Real Kids

In Your Face, Pizza Face: A Girl’s Bully-Busting Book

101 Ways to Help Preschoolers Excel in Reading, Writing, and Speaking

Quick and Easy Grammar Games to Boost Writing Power

Blue Cheese Breath and Stinky Feet: How to Deal with Bullies

Hi, God, It’s Me: e-prayers for Teenage Boys

Ready, Get Set, Go, Grammar!

Grammar Workout: Twenty-Eight Lessons, Exercises, and Activities to Jumpstart Your Writing


  1. Thank you for hosting me, Nickie. I greatly appreciate it.


  2. Here's a question from the author for your readers: What worked for you in keeping a bully away?

    1. Well, I don't know about others, but in my case (I was a little girl with an eye that wasn't straight and I wore glasses) I just was tougher than the rest. They knew they'd get a hard punch if they ever said anything to me... And later on, I always teach my students to be polite about other one's faults. Because everyone has a flaw, visible or not. If you don't wish to be called names, don't call others either, that's my motto.

  3. Thanks for sharing that with us, Nickie. I like your motto of don't call others names if you don't want to be called one. One thing you mention is that nasty kids were afraid to call you names and that's what kids have to build up, a sense of strength so that bullies won't dare mess with them. Of course, these days bully experts don't want you to get physical but to let someone know before it gets to that point. You are so right. You have to look like you won't be intimidated. That's half the battle. Thanks for your insights!

  4. Here's another question for anyone who stops by: Why is important for kids not to keep bullying to themselves?

  5. An important theme to highlight.


    1. Thanks for your interest, Mary!


  6. Congratulations Catherine! We have to keep talking about this with our kids, especially these days when being mean or sarcastic is often considered cool.

  7. Thanks for writing, Don. You're so right. Some kids think they gain status by acting mean and sarcastic, but it's often just the opposite. I agree that we have to keep talking to kids and help them feel free to tell us what's bothering them. When they don't want to talk to us, maybe another family member or trusted teacher can lend an ear. Thanks so much for your interest.

    Kind regards,