This is one of the most frightening children's books I can remember reading. Dominique de Saint-Mars is well known for her painstaking background research, and prides herself on basing all the volumes in this series on numerous interviews with real French children. Here, she wants to paint as realistic a picture as she can of what bullying in school is like, and try to offer advice to victims that might actually help them. It's not easy: I can see why she stayed away from the subject so long.
When the book opens, term has just started, and Valentine, the class's Queen Bee, is talking with her two lieutenants. One of the things that makes the book so scary is that Valentine isn't an impersonal symbol of evil. She's a character who's been in many of the books, and Lili has a kind of edgy friendship with her. Even though they frequently fall out, they always manage to make it up in the end. But Valentine is vain, she's easily bored, and we've seen many times (for example in Lili a un chagrin d'amour
) that she has a malicious streak. Now she asks her two henchwomen who they're going to get next. The rest of this review is in my book If Research Were Romance and Other Implausible Conjectures