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Three stories told from the perspectives of three different children: one who is bullied (Weird!), a bystander (Dare!), and the bully herself (Tough!). Each title shows readers, through the texts and the expressive ink illustrations, what each child feels. In Weird! Luisa is portrayed as a bubbly and vibrant character wearing her beloved polka-dot boots everywhere she goes. Then she is tormented by Sam, and her uniqueness and confidence become liabilities instead of strengths, and she throws away her boots. It isn’t until a bystander, Jayla, stands up to the bully and returns Luisa’s footwear that the book ends on a positive note with the victim confidence restored. Following the stories, nonfiction sections offer tips from each character’s perspective or suggest simple group activities that model positive behaviors. Each title also has talking points and discussion questions, so readers can go back into the story and discuss what is occurring and how they might be able to change the outcome in a real-world scenario. The books stand alone as separate titles, but they’re much more effective when utilized together to give a complete view of how the main characters are feeling and the outside events that help shape their roles. For example, Sam, the bully, is being taunted at home by an older brother–setting her up to then find someone that she can pick on at school. These will be useful titles particularly for schools, but also for public libraries that see a fair number of requests for character-education titles.—School Library Journal
One of a trio of books that present the topic of bullying from three perspectives: the bullied, the bystander and the bully.
No matter what Luisa does, from wearing her favorite polka-dot boots to telling jokes at lunch, Sam declares that she is Weird!Luisa gradually stops being herself, until her mother and friends help her realize that she is wonderful the way she is. Jayla’s fear of becoming the target governs her actions as she alternately stands by and does nothing and takes Sam’s Dare! to participate. She eventually realizes that she has lost too much to feeling scared and befriends Luisa. From glimpses of her home life, it is not hard to see why Sam acts as Tough! as she does. But her attempts at keeping things cool are not winning her any friends, and the fact that no one is playing by her rules anymore gets her to start thinking about her behavior. While the series is slightly didactic, the well-drawn characters have real problems with (mostly) credible resolutions. Extensive backmatter, with separate sections for children and adults, in each book summarizes the lessons learned and provides activities to help change ingrained behaviors. Heaphy’s pen-and-ink illustrations are dotted with highlights of color that spotlight the main characters. She is a master of facial expression and body language; Sam’s hoodie sweatshirt speaks volumes all on its own.
While the series would benefit from a boy’s version, the message is still loud and clear; this should find a home in every school library. (Picture book/bibliotherapy. 6-12)—Kirkus
Luisa tells her story: “I have a problem. There’s a girl in my class who thinks that everything I do is WEIRD!” When she speaks in class, when she tells a joke, when she wears her polka-dot boots—Sam’s always around muttering “weird.” Luisa keeps changing her behavior to appease Sam, but that doesn’t seem to be possible. After talking it over with her mom, Luisa puts on her boots, tells her jokes, and raises her hand. She realizes, “The more I act like I don’t care what she says, the more I really don’t care.” This book, with its scrawling ink art highlighted with pops of color, does some things very well, especially dealing with the feelings of someone who is not so much bullied in the classical sense, but is bewildered and losing confidence because she thinks she needs to please others. (The book does call this bullying). There’s plenty of backmatter: Luisa’s notes offer advice; Sam’s notes gets into the bully’s head; and there are tips, some more useful than others, on how to join the “Confidence Club.” A good discussion starter. — Booklist
“The Weird series is a delightful three-part story that explores the roles of the bully, the bullied, and the bystander and how children can break out of those roles and be their unique, caring selves. Not only for kids, this series is a must for parents, educators, and caregivers who want to help children end the cycle of cruelty.” —Barbara Coloroso, author of The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander
“The wonderful books in the Weird series are great resources to help build young children’s social skills to address and prevent bullying.” —Trudy Ludwig, children’s advocate and best-selling author of Confessions of a Former Bully
“The Weird series encourages children that are being bullied to stand up for themselves . . . bystanders to act when they see something bad happening . . . [and] children who are bullying others to reassess their actions and motivations.” —The Children’s Book Review
A real rarity in the character education genre.”—Green Bay Press Gazette
“An excellent tool for teaching school-age children good mental health techniques to survive and grow beyond bullying.”—Midwest Book Review: Children’s Bookwatch, Reviewer’s Choice