Want to ensure you get your way? Just mess up another kid’s day. Push them and shove them and give them a scare. Our bullies love fear and thrive on a dare.
Students who attend a class called Bully 101 learn that the best solution to feeling poorly about themselves is to make another child feel terrible. Bullies steal notebooks on the school bus, damage clothing, ostracize good students, spread rumors and make jokes. Sometimes they even resort to physical violence. For those who feel badly about their ‘course selection,’ there is an alternative class: Kindness 202.
Suited to primary and middle grade students, Bully 101 includes rich language: demoralize, humiliate, thrive and striking collage illustrations that will appeal to older readers.
Best at identifying bullying behaviors, Bully 101 implies that Kindness 202 is a happier, more inclusive choice. It does not problem-solve suggestions for victims or bystanders. Essentially the story suggests that choosing kindness will have a happier outcome for all – including those who are currently making poor choices.
Bully 101 takes a simplistic approach to the terrible problem of bullying that will not be appropriate in every circumstance but there are good reasons to use it as a discussion-starter in a primary or middle grade classroom. As well, Ms. Groenendyk’s fascinating illustrations could be used as a jumping off point for exploring this timely theme with young artists.
Wearing a makeshift superhero cape, George announces his plans for the day, “I’m going to save the world!” Grandpa and his sister are willing to help and it is not long before the trio is finding ways to reduce, reuse, repair and recycle. Large, colourful collage ilustrations include photos and drawings. Readers learn about reducing electrical consumption by hanging laundry to dry, minimizing fuel consumption by walking or riding a bicycle and the importance of turning lights off. Suggestions are also made for recycling, donating, repairing and buying locally produced items.
This book was inspired by The Eden Project an educational charity in Cornwall, England. It is worth noting that a sidebar refers to most electrical energy being produced by burning coal. This may or may not be true, depending on where the book is read. In addition, a suggestion is made that animal waste can be added to compost. This suggestion should have included the proviso that the compost ought not to be used for fruit or vegetable crops.
Cheerfully making suggestions without sounding preachy or extreme, George Saves the World by Lunchtime will be a positive addition to an eco-friendly (preschool or kindergarten) classroom or a home library.
Well-crafted wordless picture books are terrific for young readers. They provide opportunities for children to ‘read’ the illustrations and retell the story. They are also super for multilingual families – a grandparent who does not speak English can enjoy the story-sharing experience in any language.
Where’s Walrus? is a stylish, bold look at a daring escape from the city zoo. While most of the zoo animals and their keeper nap, a walrus decides it is time for fun. His first destination is just outside the zoo gates. He jumps into a large fountain and reclines next to a stone mermaid. With the keeper in hot pursuit, he shifts to a coffee shop, a store window and a construction site. Later, he helps a crew of firefighters and joins a dance team. Each time the walrus moves, he changes his head covering and manages to evade detection. Young children will enjoy “finding” the walrus while the zookeeper searches in vain. For older children, the absurdity of the premis will add to the humor.
Where’s Walrus? will be an excellent addition to a classroom zoo theme. Extension activities could include choosing new a head covering and ‘hiding’ Walrus somewhere new.
Sir Cassie to the Rescue – written by Linda Smith and illustrated by Karen Patkau
When Cassie reads a story about knights, the lure of the story prompts her to build a castle in her living room and enlist her brother to be a damsel. Her brother resists this role but does agree to be a fierce dragon. The entire family becomes involved in the make believe fun until the queen announces a noontime feast has been prepared and it is time to clean up the castle.
A cheerfully illustrated picture book, Sir Cassie to the Rescue celebrates make believe and play and will be enjoyed by children aged 4 to 8.
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