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The Truth About Truman School by Dori Hillestad Butler

The Truth About Truman School
y Dori Hillestad Butler

Publishing Information: Albert Whitman & Co.: Morton Grove, Ill., 2008
ISBN: 978037580950 / 9780807580967 (PB)
: 170 p.
Ages: 9 & Up

Zebby and Amr just want to have an uncensored, online school magazine, but someone uses their website to bully a popular girl … should they censor their classmates?

Tired of being told what to write by the school newspaper's advisor, Zibby and her friend Amr start an underground newspaper online where everyone is free to post anything, but things spiral out of control when a cyberbully starts using the site to harass one popular girl

Book Talk:
When Zebby and Amr create the website, they want it to be honest. They want it to be about the real Truman Middle School, to say things that the school newspaper would never say, and to give everyone a chance to say what they want to say, too.  But given the chance, some people will say anything-anything to hurt someone else. And when rumors about one popular student escalate to cruel new levels, it's clear the truth about Truman School is more harrowing than anyone ever imagined.

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Peer Pressure
Underground Newspapers

Awards & Reviews:
Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award Nominee, 2011

Booklist, March 15, 2008
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May 1, 2008
Christian Library Journal
, October 1, 2009
Horn Book
, October 1, 2008
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2008
School Library Journal, May 1, 2008
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, April 1, 2008

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. Which character did you like best? Which character did you like least? Why
  2. Choose two of the main characters in the book. How are they alike? How are they different?
  3. Do you think the teachers at Truman School knew what was going on?
  4. Why do you think things go so out of control on
  5. Do you think Zebby regretted starting her website? Was starting it a mistake
  6. Do you think Zebby felt bad about what happened to Lilly? What about Amr? Hayley? Brianna? Kylie? Trevor? Reece? Sara?
  7. Have you ever wanted to drop a friend the way Lilly wanted to drop Zebby and Amr in sixth grade? Why? How did you do it?
  8. If you were going to start a website, what would you put on it? Would let other people post to it? If so, would you set it up in a way that would require other people's posts to be approved by yourself before becomig visible/ Under what circumstances would you remove someone else's post?
  9. Do you think milkandhoney had a good reason for doing what he/she did to Lilly?
  10. Were you surprised to find out who milkandhoney was or was that person you thought it was all along? What clues led you to believe it was this person? What clues led you to believe if was someone else?
  11. Do you think it's a good idea for Lilly to go to a new school? What do you think life is going to be like for her ethere?
  12. Why do you think the author ended the book the way she did? Why did the author "punish" or "not punish" each character the way she did? Would you have written a different ending? Why or why not?
  13. Do you think things might have been different if the "gossip" that became a part of Zebby's online newspaper site and been posted in a chat room or on Facebook? How and why?
  14. Have you ever bullied anyone online? Have you ever been bullied online? Have you ever seen someone else bullied online?
  15. Have your views on cyberbullying changed since you've read this book? How?

Related Websites:
Author's Website -
Book Website (includes discussion forums and guides) -
Cyberbullying Research Center -
Stop Cyberbullying -

Web Wise Kids -

Bad Apple, by Laura Ruby, 2009
The Bay School Blogger by Nan Walker, 2008
, by James Preller, 2009
Chat Room by Kristin Butcher, 2006
Chrissa Stands Strong
, by Mary Casanova, 2009
Click Here (to Find Out How I Survived the Seventh Grade) by Denise Vega, 2005
, by Laura & Tom McNeal, 2006
Kiss & Blog by Alyson Noel, 2007
The Making of Dr. Truelove
by Derrik Barnes, 2006
The Revealers
by Doug Wilhelm, 2003
Scandals, Rumors, Lies
by Jessica Burkhart, 2010
Secret Identity: Book One in the Identity Mystery Trilogy (Nancy Drew)
, 2009
The Worry Web Site, by Jacqueline Wilson, 2003
The Year of the Secret Assignment by Jaclyn Moriarty, 2004

Other Books by the Author:
M Is for Minnesota
, 1998
Trading Places with Tank Talbott, 2003
Sliding into Home, 2003
Whodunit?: How the Police Solve Crimes, 2004
Do You Know the Monkey Man?, 2005
Alexandra Hopewell, Labor Coach, 2005
My Mom's Having a Baby!, 2005
Tank Talbott's Guide to Girls, 2006
F Is for Firefighting, 2007
My Grandpa Had a Stroke, 2007
Yes, I Know the Monkey Man, 2009
P Is for Police, 2009
The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy, 2010

The Buddy Files: The Case of the Missing Family, 2010
The Buddy Files: The Case of the Mixed-up Pups, 2010
The Buddy Files: The Case of the Fire Alarm, 2010
The Buddy Files: The Case of the Library Monster, 2010

About the Author:
Dori Hillestad Butler is the author of many magazine stories, picture books, and novels for children.  She and her family live in Coralville, Iowa, where she jogs or rides her bike every morning before settling down to a day of full-time writing.

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair