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I'm the new kid. I am tuf. This morning I beat up a kid.

It's only the first day of school for Dexter, but he's already mad at the principal, and the secretary, and the janitor, and the kids who laugh at him. When his teacher tells the class to write a story, Dexter writes about how tough he is -- and how he's already gotten into a fight. Is any of Dexter's story true? Why was the other boy crying before Dexter hit him? And why would the other boy still want to be Dexter's friend?

Even Dexter doesn't know the answers to some of those questions. But as he deals with family problems, a persistent teacher, and a boy who's strangely interested in floor wax, he discovers many surprises hidden in his own tale.

The Backstage Studio

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin series, and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at HaddixBooks.com.

Mark Elliott has a BFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts. He has illustrated a number of book covers, and his work has been exhibited at the Society of Illustrators and the Art Directors Guild. Mark lives on a sheep farm in the Hudson Valley region of New York.

"Dexter, a sympathetic and believable character, may help others come to grips with their demons."

– Kirkus Reviews

"A thoughtful choice for reading aloud."

– Booklist

"Haddix does an excellent job of capturing the voice of a fourth-grade boy. Dexter is a multifaceted character who thinks about his actions and emotions like a smart, confused kid, never like an adult. Occasional full-page drawings nicely portray the actions and feelings of the characters in this easy chapter book."

– School Library Journal

  • South Carolina Picture Book Award Nominee
  • William Allen White Children's Book Award Reading List (KS)
  • Sunshine State Young Readers' Award List (FL)
  • Rhode Island Children's Book Award Nominee

More books from this author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

More books from this illustrator: Mark Elliott