Tag: bullying

Thornhill by Pam Smy

Thornhill by Pam Smy

Thornhill by Pam Smy (9781626726543, Amazon)

Released August 29, 2017.

A grand Gothic graphic novel, this book is surprising and delightfully dark. The story is told in two parallel stories, one in images and one in text. Both stories take place in the same neighborhood and revolve around Thornhill, a home for orphans. Mary’s story is told in text and is set in 1982 where she is one of the last children to leave Thornhill. As the other girls leave, Mary is left with a girl who has been bullying her for some time and the story builds to a terrible climax. The illustrated story is that of Ella in 2016 who has just moved to town and doesn’t have any friends yet. She can see Thornhill, now disused and old, from her house. When she glimpses a girl there, she decides to figure out the story of Thornhill and the girl.

This is the sort of story, you curl up with and read as fast as possible. Happily, Smy’s writing and illustrations make it almost impossible to leave this book behind for even a moment. The illustrations linger with the reader, haunting in their black and white details. The text invite readers into the past, showing them what being an orphan in was like before rules were put in place to protect children. There is a brilliance to not setting the history piece in the 1800’s, but allowing shocking situations of a more modern time to surface.

The art pieces in the book allow the reader to piece together that the girl being described in the text is not the one in the images quickly. The images are done only in black and white, filled often with deep shadows and lit by bright light at other times. They are dynamic and interesting, telling their own wordless story of Ella and her own losses.

Get this into the hands of children who enjoy ghost stories, because this one will haunt readers. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Roaring Brook Press.

 

 

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney (9780316341578, Amazon)

Pinkney continues his foray into classic folktales with this new book. With its focus on fooling a bully, this is a timely tale to tackle. Pinkney uses great skill to whittle the text down to exactly what is needed to carry the story forward. The book is not a reinvention of the original tale, but instead a focused version of the original that will have children cheering the brave goats. Pinkney does add a nice touch to the end with the troll getting harried himself and then rejected in a clever mirror of what he did to the goats.

The illustrations from this Caldecott winning artist are exceptional as always. Pinkney uses pencil and watercolor to create his rich illustrations that have small details, large landscapes and animals. The goats are winsome and courageous while the troll is a vile green with long toenails, tusk-like teeth, and rotting fish and fish skeletons around him.

Another must-have for every library by a master author/illustrator. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (9780062414151, Amazon)

Four middle schoolers start their summer vacation and steadily their lives begin to come together. There is Virgil, a quiet boy who lives in a family of loud, boisterous people. Except for his grandmother who understands him and tells him stories from her village in the Philippines. Valencia is a girl who is deaf and wears hearing aids to help her lip read. She used to have close friends but enjoys spending her days outside in the local woods where she takes care of a stray dog. Kaori believes that she has psychic powers and is helping Virgil gain the courage to speak with a girl he wants to be friends with. Finally, there is Chet who bullies Virgil and Valencia. He starts problems one day in the woods and Virgil finds himself in real danger. But can Kaori and Valencia figure out what has happened before it’s too late?

Kelly’s novel is rich and riveting. She writes about children who are lonely and interesting. The book speaks to children who don’t fit in, who are bullied, and who are unique in some way. It’s about staying true to yourself and not trying to be someone else. Important subjects weave throughout as well, including deafness and diversity. These enrich the novel even further, making it a book that grapples with important topics and yet stays entirely accessible and filled with plenty of action.

The characters are what make this book sing. Each of them is more than what could have been a stereotype. From the mystical Kaori to shy Virgil to Valencia and her hearing aids, each child has a full personality and plenty to offer the reader. Each is grappling with loneliness and unable to move forward though they know they need to. There is a beautiful theme of folktales and myth throughout the novel with the grandmother’s stories forming a basis for the coincidences and fate that brings our young heroes together.

An intelligent adventure of a book that is about friendships that seem impossible but happen anyway. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins Publishers.

10 Great Books for Older Children on Bullying

While my “10 Great” series so far has focused only on picture books, I want to share some great books for older children as well. Here are some wonderful books about bullies and bullying to share in classrooms and families:

Better Nate Than Ever Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell

Friends for Life Garvey's Choice

Friends for Life by Andrew Norriss

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

Maxi's Secrets: (or what you can learn from a dog) My Heart Is Laughing

Maxi’s Secrets by Lynn Plourde

My Heart Is Laughing by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson

Pack of Dorks (Pack of Dorks #1) Wolf Hollow

Pack of Dorks by Beth Vrabel

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Wonder Words in the Dust

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy

 

10 Great Picture Books about Bullying

As I look at our nation and what this election showed us, I see a tolerance for bullying that is concerning and frightening. Yet, it gives me great joy to see that we are teaching our children to reject bullies through the picture books they read. Here are some great picture books to share:

The Artist and Me 15062342

The Artist and Me by Shane Peacock, illustrated by Sophie Casson

Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Bully Goggles!

Bully by Patricia Polacco

Goggles by Ezra Jack Keats

18763344 I'm Number One

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

I’m Number One by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Bob Graham

Jacob's New Dress Red

Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, illustrated by Chris Case

Red by Jan De Kinder

The Ugly Duckling Willow Finds a Way

The Ugly Duckling by Jerry Pinkney

Willow Finds a Way by Lana Button

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

garveys-choice-by-nikki-grimes

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes (InfoSoup)

All Garvey seems to do is disappoint his father. His father would like him to play sports and to enjoy them too, but Garvey isn’t athletic. He’d much rather read science fiction and learn about science. Feeling bad about himself, Garvey consoles himself with food and starts to gain weight. He has one friend, who encourages him to join the school chorus. Soon Garvey is making new friends and displaying his talent. He becomes the new soloist for the chorus and his interest in music starts to build a bridge to his father via a new route.

Told in verse, this book of poetry is brief and powerful. Garvey’s situation with his father reads a organic and volatile, the desperation to connect creating even more of a distance between father and son as the failures continue. Garvey’s use of food as a solace is intelligently done, offering hope that he can find his footing again but also not seeing weight loss as the ultimate solution or weight as the real problem. Verse allows Grimes to cut right to the heart of these situations, revealing the layers of issues at play.

Garvey is a bright, funny character. He is shown as a good friend, supportive and also accepting. As Garvey begins to reach out and try new things, he is rewarded by the chorus also reaching out to him. Again, the progress is done in a natural way. Nothing is perfect and there is no magical solution here. It is hard work, talent and slow progress towards a better place.

A shining look at loneliness, bullying and the ability of music to break down barriers. Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison

my-friend-maggie-by-hannah-e-harrison

My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison (InfoSoup)

Maggie and Paula have been friends since they were babies. Maggie, an elephant, is great at a lot of things like splashing in puddles and reaching apples on the tree. But when Veronica tells Paula that she thinks Maggie is too big, Paula starts to notice things about Maggie. She sees that Maggie is clumsy, can’t hide during games, and her clothes are snug. Paula knows that she should stand up for Maggie, but instead Paula starts to pretend she doesn’t see Maggie at all, something that is particularly hard with an elephant. When Veronica starts to pick on Paula for her teeth and the way they stick out, Maggie is the first to defend her, showing exactly how a friend should act.

Harrison tells the story of a little problem in a strong friendship, a situation that will be very familiar for young children who are just figuring out how to be friends and what that means. Children will feel for Maggie and the way she is shunned but thanks to Harrison having the voice of Paula tell the story, they will also understand Paula’s point of view and even see how they themselves could make the same choice.

Harrison’s art shines as always. Her detailed artwork shows Maggie in all of her size and also captures her friendly spirit as well. Throughout the book, you can tangibly feel the emotions of the characters. Maggie’s ears alone do a great job of conveying how very sad and hurt she is by the way she is being treated. And look out when Maggie is angry!

This is a beautiful picture book about a cherished friendship that stumbles and then rights itself. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from ARC received from Dial Books.