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Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  300 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Bernice Buttman is tough, crass, and hilarious, and she just might teach you a thing or two about empathy in this debut reminiscent of The Great Gilly Hopkins.

When you're a Buttman, the label "bully" comes with the territory, and Bernice lives up to her name. But life as a bully is lonely, and if there's one thing Bernice really wants (even more than becoming a Hollywood s
Published March 26th 2019 by Random House
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Shanna Rogers
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My heart is bursting for Bernice! I want to hug this book. This is everything I love about middle grade all rolled up into one incredible novel. At the beginning of the book, Bernice is far from "likable"--she's the school bully--but you can immediately see how she came to that point, and from page one I was rooting for her. The humor here is irresistible, and it has equal amount of heart. As a teacher, I want to go shove this into the hands of every kid who picks on others, every kid in general ...more
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit. This down home redemption story was a breath of fresh air and made me proud of this local author. Bernice Buttman's voice rings true and I loved the little things like a horse named Hoof Hearted, the poker game played with banana stickers, and the book quote notes that Sister Angela-Clarence would leave for Bernice (one time on a Hubba Bubba wrapper). Readers who have enjoyed "Gertie's Leap to Greatness" and "Beverly, Right Here" will also want to read ...more
Arianne Costner
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just finished my ARC. I was cracking up most every page, especially in the beginning. My husband was amused that I kept laughing and then shouting out how much I love this book. Bernice is a bully, but Niki does a great job showing her heart and motivations. She is fully reformed by the end :) great book, great message abt how we get to decide who we are, not our circumstances
ALLLL the stars. Full disclosure: my bestie wrote this book. I’ve read it many times, from rough draft to now an ARC in my hands, and this book still makes me happy cry. Put March 26, 2019 on your calendar to buy this funny and heartwarming book!
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, "butter my butt and call me a biscuit." I loved this "voicy" debut about finding family and friendship. Bernice is a recovering bully to root for!
Ms. Yingling
Copy provided by the publisher

Bernice lives in the Lone Star Trailer Park in Kansas City with her mother, her mother's boyfriend, and her four brothers, all of whom were named after the Hollywood stars their different fathers resembled. Her brother's steal things and wander the neighborhood blowing things up, and her mother stops by school to take back Bernice's lunch money so she can pay for her next tattoo. Unsurprisingly, Bernice has few friends and is somewhat of a bully, using her larger si
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bernice Buttman is unkind. Bernice Buttman is unpleasant. Bernice Buttman might pinch you, or twist your arm, or WORSE.


Bernice Buttman is lonely. She wants a friend. She just doesn’t know how to make one.

Bernice has lots of adventures in this book - things that will make you laugh. Things that will make you shake your head. And you will definitely feel like eating cheese balls.

But the most compelling part of this story is Bernice herself. It’s impossible to read this book without rooting
I seriously enjoyed this. Bernice Buttman is poor, lives in a trailer park, and may be a little bit of a bully. Due to running a charity scam and her mom finding out, she is sent to live with her aunt while her mom leaves to California to try to become a celebrity with her boyfriend.

Bernice's life isn't exactly happy but she has a way of telling her story that makes it funny and enjoyable. And while you might can't take all of the trailer park out of the girl, different environments can help her
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bernice Buttman is anything but a model citizen. She is a bully, having grown up from the days when her four brothers bullied others on her behalf. However, being a bully is lonely and she decides she wants a friend, but the other fifth graders are scared of her, especially Oliver Stratts, the kid she has targeted for friendship. She does have one person in her corner, Ms. Knightley, the town librarian who sees the Bernice who has possibilities.

Bernice lives in the Lone Star Trailer Park where s
Joshua Levy
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yes, Bernice Buttman is kind of a bully. Or, she thinks she is, anyway. She's got a rep in her hometown to maintain after all, except maybe to the town librarian, who seems to see beneath Bernice's tough veneer, even when Bernice herself can't quite do the same.

But when Bernice's family sends her off to live with an aunt, Bernice realizes that she's got a chance to start over. And maybe also a chance to realize the kinds of dreams she's harbored all along: To figure out a way to stunt camp. To m
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great character! Super funny! Wonderful writing!

I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy of this book and pretty much laughed my way through it. Bernice Buttman is one of the most unlikely yet endearing characters you’ll find. Rough around the edges and soft and gooey in the center. She can't seem to get out of her own way, and I loved her for it. Niki Lenz brings you right into Bernice's world, almost as if you are standing with her, sucking down the cheese puffs. She comes at you wit
Kristin Thorsness
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of this book, and fell in love!

Bernice is a big ol' bully with a heart of gold. Yes, she's rude and gruff, but she'll have you rooting for her from the first pages.

As a former elementary school teacher, I highly recommend this book as a read-aloud for classrooms. Through humor and a series of ridiculous events, it tells a tale that shows even the biggest bullies can change their ways, and that there's always time to turn over a new leaf.
Kristina Rinard
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You’re going to fall in love with Bernice and her wit, wickedness, and unapologetic her-ness. A believable and hilarious character, Bernice works hard to change herself and her path—from a bully from the trailer park to a decent friend living in a nunnery. Bernice learns that changing yourself is hard but making real friends might not be.
Nichole Oothoudt
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A story about cheese balls, armpit hugs, booger besties, wet willies, second chances, and finding the good in yourself that you never knew existed. A little bit of ‘potty’ humor, a whole lot of heart. So much voice in this novel that students will love! Add it to your must-buy list - on sale March 2019.
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My daughter (10) and I enjoyed every chapter of this book! It's the perfect balance of salty and sweet Bernice. My daughter's favorite part was Bernice's horse adventures. It was motivating and heart-warming to watch Bernice transform herself to be a better/kinder person in the midst of difficult circumstances -- a difficult task for us all! We can't wait to read more books by Niki Lenz!
Carrie Allen
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely delightful! Creative story, very accessible, and a fresh take on bullies. Fantastic humor, LOL on every page. Three-dimensional characters that grab you in a headlock and don't let you go. This is a must for every middle grade bookshelf; library, school and home.
Amanda Rawson Hill
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There was not a single second of this book that I didn't enjoy. Hilarious and heartfelt. If you ever wanted a story from Gladys or Imogene Herdman's POV, this is it! I read it aloud to my daughter and every night she begged for one more chapter.
Susan Adrian
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this sweet, funny, unique book, and blazed through it!! It’s so captivating, and kids will absolutely eat it up. Go snag a copy now!
Christine Turner
2020 2021 Texas Bluebonnet List

When you're a Buttman, the label "bully" comes with the territory, and Bernice lives up to her name. But life as a bully is lonely, and if there's one thing Bernice really wants (even more than becoming a Hollywood stuntwoman), it's a true friend. After her mom skedaddles and leaves her in a new town with her aunt (who is also a real live nun), Bernice decides to mend her ways and become a model citizen. If her plan works, she just might be able to get herself to H
Jacqueline Firkins
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was so much fun and I know some kids who are going to LOVE it. The humor and voice are spectacular and kept this adult reader smiling all the way through. Though Bernice does a lot of mean things, from the first chapter, Lenz gives us a glimpse at Bernice's underlying loneliness and neglect. She's a product of her circumstances. We feel her need to connect, to make friends, to find a sense of home and family. That said, Bernice's spirit remains indomitable throughout. There's no melodrama o ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Adorable book! I loved that Bernice grew believably into a better person. She still kept her edge though. I enjoyed it, and I'm glad I was able to read it. As a Children's Librarian, there are TONS I want to read, but I don't get to read many of them. I mostly read book reviews ;-) Anyway, I think there could be a sequel to this one.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: c-a
I loved the journey that Bernice went on throughout this book. It shows that environment changes you. I am glad that Bernice was able to change and help out the nuns. I could see this being a series, but it did feel like a complete story.

loved her sayings... "dilling my pickle" or "butter my butt and call me a biscuit"

2020 Tx bluebonnet
Jul 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I am sure this book will appeal to many students because of some of the humor - her last name is Buttman after all - but I found it a little crude for my taste - not unusual with a number of middle-grade books I read to recommend. Bernice is the youngest child, with all older brothers, of a family that lives in Texas in a trailer park. And the family is pretty stereotypically what you would expect. Bernice has spent her life so far - she's in fifth grade - being a bully because that is what has ...more
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Library To-Go
Booktalk on 10/24/19 -JEC
This one is a 3.5 for me and a promising debut for its author, who has written a very funny book about redemption. Fifth grader Bernice Buttman is a bully, and she is less than kind to her classmates. But as anyone who has taught for a single day knows, behind a bully, there is fear, insecurity, and deep loneliness, and that's the case for Bernice. After her plans to raise money so that she can attend a stunt camp are thwarted and the money hijacked by her mother, Bernice is foisted off on her a ...more
Tina Athaide
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bernice is a big, bad bully and her four rowdy brothers and self-centered mum don’t help the situation. They all lived in a cramped trailer in Kansas City where Bernice doesn’t even have her own bed. When she is lashing out at others, Bernice dreams of attending a stunt camp and even raises a substantial amount of money, but those dreams are shattered when her mum steals the money and skedaddles off to California to fulfill her own dreams.

Bernice finds herself shipped off to live with her Aunty
Katy Jean Vance
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lots of funny moments... I snorted when the nativity scene happened, and I adored the southern-isms like “butter my butt and call me a biscuit”.

Bernice is an authentically likable character. I think for students who come from homes lacking strong patentable support, this is an opportunity to see how you can shape who you want to be.

Some of the characterization, particularly of the Mom, bothered me a bit in a way I can’t fully put my finger on... perhaps it’s the focus on weight... I felt like
Jenna Stickley
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought Bernice Buttman Model Citizen was an okay book but definitely not something that I would have picked up on my own. It surprised me in that it rose above my expectations. It is a great story of Bernice’s journey of self exploration from being a bully to something better. This book includes many book and movie references showing the time this story is set it. This is a great book for people who like a drastic change in their main character. The author of this book seems like a great pers ...more
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Niki Lenz lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and children. She studied elementary education at Southwest Baptist University and taught kindergarten for six years. She enjoys reading, travel, glamping, polka dots, red lipstick, and oldies music. Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter at @NikiRLenz or visit

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