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By Luke Voogt

After battling schoolyard bullies by writing a book, Wandana Heights’ Brook Blaney is on a quest to win a publishing contract.
“My dream is to find someone who will publish it,” the 12-year-old says.
“I believe this book should be available in all primary schools.”
Brooke’s book The One That Was Different tells the story of April, who the other characters bully because of her orange hair.
But April develops a special friendship, which helps the story’s other characters realise they are different too.
Eventually the characters “show off” their differences, rather than hide them.
Brooke’s own struggles against bullies inspired April and the other characters, she reveals.
“They’d call me an orangutan and they’d pretend to catch me like an endangered species,” the grade 6 student says.
But she and some classmates stood up to the bullies.
“Some other people told the teacher when they saw it happened,” she says.
Brooke used fingerprints to tell the story of April who, like her, overcame her tormentors.
“My story has an important message about stereotyping,” she says.
“April finds out everyone is different in their own way.”
Brooke presented the book at a school exhibition night and the positive reaction gave her confidence to pursue her dream of being a published author.
“Many people, both adults and children, have identified similarities to themselves in the story,” she says.
“I like coming up with all the characters and how they each have their own story. I can express my ideas and I can give people messages in my books.”
Brooke’s mum Carolyn Blaney is proud of her using words to overcome bullies and stereotypes.
“(The bullying) was horrible,” she says. “This is her way of taking action.”

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