“Weird!” is part of the series including “Dare!” and “Tough!” and all are great read aloud books for any classroom teacher. Erin Frankel manages the difficult task of making each girl in the bullying triangle feel sympathetic. And that’s no easy task.
The three books are comprised of one story about three different girls, each told from that particular girl’s point of view. They need to be read together. Some children will identify with at least one of the girls. There are always those who bully, those who are bullied, and the bystanders.
Luisa is the girl who is being bullied by Sam, another girl. She says, “Hi. My name is Luisa and I have a problem. There is a girl in my class named Sam who thinks that everything I do is WEIRD!”
She goes on to explain that if she answers a math question in class, Sam says she’s weird. If she tells a funny joke, Sam says she’s weird. If she says something in Spanish (like “hola, Papa”), Sam says she’s weird. So she decides to be quiet. She decides to not speak to her dad in Spanish. She is sad, and she doesn’t feel like herself.
Jayla is the girl who used to be picked on by Sam, the tough girl. She never dared to stand up for herself, and now she is afraid to stand up for Luisa. She is relieved when Sam starts to make fun of Luisa. She says, “I felt relieved. I wasn’t the one being bullied. I felt bad for Luisa but good for me.” And when Sam dares her to say mean things to Luisa, she does.
Jayla is too scared of Sam not to go along with the meanness until she dares herself to talk to Luisa and apologize. She finds out that if a group of kids decide to ignore Sam, they can make changes.
In “Tough!” the reader finds out that Sam is a bully because she learned that being tough is important. Making fun of others helps make them tough. Kids made fun of her (especially her older brother) and that was the beginning of her “toughness.”
Sam admits, “I act this way to keep things cool. So people won’t mess with me.” She doesn’t think of it as being mean until an adult points it out to her. By then, Sam is upset that the other kids aren’t following her rules. She learns that she could pick on others, but “it feels better to have a friend instead.”
At the end of each story, there are notes from each girl about how she changed the situation she was in for the better. “Tough!” has information about a Kindness Club, “Dare!” has information about a Courage Club, and “Weird!” has information about a Confidence Club.
Another great book to read with this series is “One” by Katherine Otoshi, in which she talks about bullying from the point of view of colors and numbers.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover books provided by the publisher, Free Spirit Publishing, for review purposes.
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