The Present Takers

How do you stop the school bully?
         'Wait here,' Melanie Prosser said at the school gate. 'Then
          we won't miss her.'
'In her daddy's posh car,' Sally-Ann Simpson said.
         'Showoff pig.'
'I'll put an arm lock on her,' Vicky Farrant said.
         'We've got to get tough,' Angus was saying. 'Somebody has
          to stop her.'
'Nobody has yet,' Lucy said. 'Not even teachers.'
'That's cos nobody tells them!'
'What do you expect?'
'Well, somebody ought to stand up to her.'
Lucy Hall's life is being made an utter misery by Melanie Prosser and her
two bullying sidekicks - the present takers - who hassle and threaten her
every day at the school gate for presents and money. Too ashamed to
tell her parents, and too scared to tell her teacher, Lucy finds an
unexpected ally in scruffy Angus Burns who knows exactly what's been
going on. When things start to get really nasty for Lucy, there's only one
thing to do: take on the present takers and silence them once and for all.
Dutch Silver Pencil Award 1986
First published by Bodley Head, 1983
Latest edition, Red Fox pbk, 1994
Also available in More Cool School Stories, Red Fox pbk, 1999
FAQs  from young readers about The Present Takers
Is the story based on a real event?
Yes. A friend found out that his daughter was being badly bullied at school. No one seemed to be able to stop it. He asked me - as an ex-teacher - what I would do. I didn't know. How do you stop the school bully? I wrote the book to find an answer. The first half of the story is pretty much the way it happened in real life. I made up the second half.
What happened to Lucy and Angus? Did they stay friends?
I think so. In fact, I've often felt there was another story to be told, this time about Angus when he is about thirteen and decides to find his mother. But so far, I haven't been able to write it.
What happened to Melanie?
We know from the story that she was sent to a home for young people who have been abused and misbehaved. But I don't know what happened to her after that. Maybe I should find out?
How long did it take you to write the book?
Three years, start to finish.
Do you rewrite a lot?

Yes. I reckon I rewrote The Present Takers six times before I was satisfied with it.

All contents are ©Aidan Chambers unless otherwise stated.





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