Rhyme Scheme is a contemporary realistic novel told in verse about 7th grader Kevin’s year at school. He starts out the year by taking out his anger and feelings of abandonment on his fellow classmates, specifically Robin and Kelly. His parents are doctors, too distracted by their work and their four other “planned” sons to pay attention to Kevin or notice that one of his brothers is a total jerk to Kevin.

Kevin also expresses his inner thoughts through writing poetry and (the less productive) tearing pages out of classic books and making found/blackout poetry from them. He signs a pseudonym on them and posts them around school.

When Robin finds Kevin’s notebook one day, the tables are turned. Kevin was suspended from school for punching Robin. Now Robin has the upper hand. Robin uses Kevin’s notebook as blackmail. Robin wants to be the Poetry Bandit. If Kevin gets mad and punches Robin, Robin will turn him in for destroying books. Kevin can’t even take credit for his own work. Every day at school becomes miserable for Kevin. He kind of deserves it, but you still feel bad for him. You can tell why he acts out aggressively in school.

The only person that notices his problems and potential is the school librarian (yeah!). Kevin gets mandated library duty and has to help out after school. Kevin and the librarian trade notes and she encourages appropriate outlets of writing and his talent. I love the part where the family is dragged to the mother’s business dinner and told to sit pretty for the boss. Kevin accidentally does something and his family gets mad at him and the librarian marches right in and tells the family to be nice to Kevin.

It’s a little young and predictable, but I enjoyed it. I like that kids have a chance to see the bully’s perspective. It’s not okay to bully, but you can see the reasons behind why Kevin acts the way he does. I would probably recommend this for 4th and 5th graders. 6th-8th graders might think it’s a little young even though Kevin is in 7th.

Even though this is a straight up bullying novel, readers will find Kevin sympathetic, funny and authentic. (And that’s not a bad thing!)