Stewart is on the run from a gang of bullies when he discovers an open manhole. Scrambling inside, he’s safe, for the moment. But when he finally escapes out the other side, he finds himself in a whole new world – a world of children hiding in a walled city to keep themselves safe from the Venators.
One child – the Princeps – holds the key to the city in a book called the Comlat. Inside, she claims, is a prophecy about the city’s Forebears who were defeated after three battles with the Venators. But Stewart doesn’t believe in prophecies, and he thinks the Forebears went home after defeating the Venators. A daring attempt to discover the truth leads to his expulsion from the city, and an unexpected chance to prove his theory correct.
What Stewart discovers is the key to understanding and defeating the powers these bullies have over the children. Once he knows what they need to do, the Venators have no power over the city, and everyone is finally free.
This accompanying discussion guide is meant to be used with Bitopia in schools. They are designed to empower children to understand what bullies are doing to them, and how to handle bullying situations by themselves, without relying on adult interference. While the guide suggests kids may want to ask an adult for help, it discourages adults from stepping in without being asked.
Bullying occurs at all ages, not just in childhood, and teaching kids to rely solely on adult intervention makes them powerless to deal with bullying later in life. By providing them with the tools to deal with the problem on their own, they will be able to handle it any time it happens, without waiting to be rescued.
I highly recommend Bitopia and Understanding Bullying and Ways to Make It Stop! for classroom use.
Reviewer: Alice Berger