Title: Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big Fat Loser
A Book About Bullying
Author: Catherine DePino
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1
The kids at school pick on Elliot Carnucci. He's overweight, looks like a geek, makes top honors, and lives in a funeral home. Can Elliot win his fight against the bullies, or is he doomed forever?
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 his time between living with his 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. 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.
I figured it was a dumb question, so I looked at the ground like I always do when an adult says something stupid.
Doc walked beside me, babbling nonstop. "As I said when they pelted you with those mini pizzas in the cafeteria, 'I'll do everything I can, but I can't be there every minute.'"
The kids at Ralph Bunche High School make fun of Doc because he has a belly that flops over his belt and makes him look like he's about to have a baby. They call him "Beer Gut Greely" behind his back.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Kyle Canfield and his buddy Derek Parker smiling. "Fat loser," one of them whispered. That was their favorite name for me, but they loved to call me "2K," meaning two tons, so the teachers wouldn't have a clue about what they were up to.
Doc spun around to where they were standing. He enjoyed what he called "catching culprits in the act," but it was too late. Kyle and Derek had already made a mad dash down the hall.
Doc barked into his walkie-talkie to Officer Grady, the school cop. "Pick up Canfield and Parker in homeroom. Have the dean give them in-school suspension for three days. Looks like they didn't learn much from those detentions we gave them last time."
"You got it, boss," Grady shouted over the phone static.
I followed Doc to his office and sank into the butt aching folding chair he reserved for kids who talked back, cursed out teachers, or cut class. Doc leaned back in his swivel chair and tapped the tips of his fingers together.
I read in Psychology Today how body language can tell you what's going on in people's heads. Steepling your fingers shows you think you're better than everybody. Doc thinks he has all the answers, especially when it comes to my harassment issues.
When I thought Doc would tumble over in his chair, he braced his hands on the desk and straightened up like he had a broomstick up his butt. He pointed his finger so close to my face I thought he'd gouge out my eye and I'd have to roam the earth like a Cyclops for the rest of my life.
He leaned toward me, and I could smell the stinky salami and provolone sandwich he usually ate for lunch. "You know who can help you?"
I shrugged, knowing what his answer would be.
"You can help you," he said, like he was giving me the secret of the universe.
I looked at him like he was an alien, but he didn't catch it.
"What do you have to say about all this, Elliot?"
I shrugged my shoulders. What did he expect me to say, that I was the big fat loser those guys always called me?
By now the whole school knew because they'd scribbled that name and a few others I won't mention on the bathroom wall.
Doc squinted at me with his muddy hazel eyes. He hated it when you didn't answer right away.