Tuesday, February 11, 2014

‘Weird!’ ‘Dare!’ ‘Tough!’ Bullying from three perspectives

Book covers: Weird!, Dare! and Tough! by Erin Frankel and illustrated by Paula Heaphy
Image credit: Free Spirit Publishing
A case of bullying is told from the perspectives of the target, a bystander, and the child who initiated the bullying in Weird!, Dare! and Tough!, written by Erin Frankel and illustrated by Paula Heaphy (Free Spirit Publishing).

Luisa, a third-grader, is constantly put-down by a classmate, Sam. And third-grader Jayla was bullied by Sam in the past. She feels pressured to accept Sam’s dares because she’s afraid that if she does not, Sam will bully her again.

Each of the children are sympathetic and believable characters. In first-hand accounts, they speak directly to readers about their experiences.

The handling of Sam, the bully of the story, is especially well-done. Her actions are not justified but her motivations are believable.

While the incidents remain consistent across the three-book set, each child offers a unique viewpoint. And while each story can stand by itself, being able to read all three supplied this reviewer with a richer experience.

Lessons learned by the three main characters are compiled at the end of each book. These are organized as acrostics that spell out “Weird,” “Dare” and “Tough.” Reflection questions offer suggestions for adults to guide discussions about the story.

What impressed me most about this series was its hopeful, empowering quality and its emphasis that “everyone has a role to play” to combat bullying.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received review copies of these books from the publisher. The opinion expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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