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Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  95 ratings  ·  39 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
Published March 26th 2019 by Random House
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Average rating 4.38  · 
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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
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!
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
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
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 stun
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 with
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 h
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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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
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
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
Toni Rhodes
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it
3.75 stars. Funny, and would make a great read-aloud book, but teachers beware — its a bit coarse in places, just like Bernice. As a native Southerner, I was annoyed by the stereotyping of Southern culture (trailer trash, Honey Boo Boo, etc.). Also, I often got the feeling that the humor was too adult, like the author imposing her own humor on the fifth grade Bernice.
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! I loved that my students devoured this book, even my reluctant readers love Bernice! I laughed out loud, which was just good for my soul. I know Niki from college and I could hear her voice as I read. I always thought that her sense of humor was awesome and this book didn’t disappoint... it is witty and endearing! Looking forward to Niki’s next book!
Lisa Schmid
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It was so refreshing to read a book from the point of view of the bully. Bernice Buttman is a loveable and hilarious hero. I was rooting for her to succeed. My eleven-year-old son and I read it together, and we both laughed out loud so many times, my husband joined us. This book belongs in the hands of every middle-grade reader! More Cheetos!
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mock-newbery
Oh, Bernice. What a great character. Loved this. Lots of funny lines, like "She had rays of sunbeams shining out her nostrils, I tell you want." I want to focus more on social emotional learning next year, and this fits that arena without being mushy, lame, or didactic. Hope Lenz is working on a second novel.
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! There was so much heart. Bernice was likable, for sure. What I didn’t know was how many plot twists there would be that were unpredictable, fun, and kept me turning page after page. I’m a mom reading this book, but my kids loved it just as much as I did.
Mary Hamer
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well “butter my butt and call me a biscuit”. #BerniceButtman by @NikiRLenz was hilariously cute! Couldn’t help but picture Sister Monica Joan and the other nuns from #callthemidwife as Bernice’s caretakers 🥰. Now off to eat cheese balls & find a booger sister! #kidlit #MGLit
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.

Leah Lambart
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So much fun and also a great story! I loved this book!
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Can’t wait to read it to my 4th graders at the beginning of a year! Such a great book to show how people can change! You also will laugh out loud throughout most of this 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!
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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