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Willow Finds a Way

Willow Finds a Way

4.0 2
by Lana Button, Tania Howells (Illustrator)

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In this simple but substantial picture book by Lana Button, shy, quiet Willow silently wishes she could find a way to say no to her bossy classmate Kristabelle's demands, but the words never seem to come when she needs them. That is, until Kristabelle starts using the powerful threat of un-inviting children from her ?fantastic? birthday party to keep them in line, and


In this simple but substantial picture book by Lana Button, shy, quiet Willow silently wishes she could find a way to say no to her bossy classmate Kristabelle's demands, but the words never seem to come when she needs them. That is, until Kristabelle starts using the powerful threat of un-inviting children from her ?fantastic? birthday party to keep them in line, and Willow decides she's finally had enough. Surprising everyone, even herself, Willow steps up and bravely does something shocking, and it changes the entire dynamic of the classroom.
This child-friendly and relatable story about bullying is elegantly told with honesty and heart. The simple artwork by Tania Howells beautifully captures the subtleties of the story; the children are the main focus of the spare illustrations, allowing their body language and facial expressions to leap off the page and showcase exactly how they're feeling. This is a book that will have young children on the edge of their seats at storytime, deeply sympathetic to the dilemma faced by Willow and her classmates. What makes this book particularly helpful is that it presents a model for how any child, even a shy one like Willow, can find his or her own way to deal with a bossy or bullying classmate. It offers a pitch-perfect lesson on how to stand up for yourself, terrifically aligning with character education lessons on courage. The empowering message here also helps promote individual self-awareness, self-esteem and good decision making.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Like most children, Willow wishes she could say to "no" to bossy Kristabelle who wants everything to go her way. But like the other children in her class, Willow always caves to Kristabelle's orders. When Kristabelle invites her classmates to her "fantastic" birthday party, Willow is overjoyed to be included. But soon, Kristabelle demands the children sit with her at snack time or they'll be uninvited. She wants them to watch only what she is doing and to wear only pink, but when she decides she should be first in line when it's not her turn, Mateo reminds her it's his turn. He gets his name scratched off her list. Willow is upset by Kristabelle's actions, but she does not know how make her bossy classmate stop. Then Julian does not wear pink and gets his name scratched off the list. Willow knows Kristabelle is being mean, but is too afraid to say so. After she frets about the problem more, she comes up the solution. She picks up the birthday list and scratches off her own name. How will Kristabelle react? What will the other children do? Children will relate to the problem in this sweetly told story and teachers can use it as a platform to talk about manners and behavior. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
K-Gr 1—Being invited to someone's birthday party is an honor, especially if it's someone who's popular like Kristabelle. Willow is thrilled to be on the initial guest list, but she becomes troubled as Kristabelle begins to remove names as children displease her. Willow knows Kristabelle's behavior is cruel and controlling but she just can't find the words or the nerve to tell her. Eventually, she finds the courage to remove her own name from the list, and the rest of her classmates follow suit. This leaves Kristabelle distressed since no one wants to come to her party. The students watch her struggle while learning an important lesson. She then destroys the list and invites all of them to the party. They happily reconsider after recognizing that she has changed her ways. Button has recognized a common childhood dilemma, trying to deal with a peer's controlling personality. She has crafted a story to help children acknowledge and express their feelings while in uncomfortable situations. Howells's artwork is simple and strongly emotional. The conclusion elicits a sigh of relief from readers as the tension in the class is eliminated and the party will go on. A good choice to prompt discussions about friendship, bullying, and self-confidence.—Diane Antezzo, Ridgefield Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Shy Willow stands up to a mean girl in her primary-grade classroom. Kristabelle is the boss of the class that Willow is in, and when she invites everyone to her birthday party, Willow is thrilled. But if a classmate won't sit at her lunch table or play what she wants at recess, she will cross them off her birthday list. Mateo won't give up his turn as Line Leader, so Kristabelle crosses him off; Julian won't wear pink when Kristabelle demands it, so the blonde, curly-headed girl crosses him off, too. Willow then bravely crosses her own name off, and so do all her friends, leaving Kristabelle alone. But Willow sits with the formerly mean girl when no one else will. Kristabelle apologizes to the whole class, and everyone comes to her party and has a fine time. The illustrations, brightly colored on white backgrounds, with figures sketched in the simplest of lines and dots, depict an ethnically mixed classroom of children. Putting aside the sexism inherent in only boys being blacklisted (or at least, the only ones willing to stand up to Kristabelle), it's all too easily resolved, even for the second-graders this seems to be aimed at. There is meanness and bullying at every level in schools, and it needs to be addressed in stories as well as in real life, but they must be honest stories in which the lesson does not outweigh the tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Kids Can Press, Limited
Publication date:
Willow Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.30(d)
AD660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Lana Button works in early childhood education. Her writing has been published in Lady Bug magazine and Today's Parent. Willow's Whispers is Lana's first book for Kids Can Press.

Tania Howells's illustrations have appeared in Chirp and Today's Parent, among other publications. She is the illustrator of Berkeley's Barn Owl Dance and Willow's Whispers. Tania lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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Willow Finds a Way 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Lisa-Lou More than 1 year ago
Willow Finds a Way by Lana Button My rating: 3 of 5 stars Willow Finds a Way by Lana Button is a children's story about how a little girl named Willow finds a way to handle an emotional bully named Kristabelle without hurting anyones feelings in the long run. The way Willow finds to handle the situation allows Kristabelle to realize the error of her ways and gives her a chance to do the right thing.A cute tale with a strong moral lesson. 
book4children More than 1 year ago
Bullying is a hot topic these days, and I am glad this issue is receiving so much attention. Willow Finds a Way is a great story for every child about a very realistic and common form of bullying in younger children. Willow is scared. She worries about being the next victim, until she takes action and shows leadership. Not only does she remove the threat of herself being bullied, but she also undermines the bully's control over the rest of their classmates. She provides a solution to the problem and an out for all the other children. The artwork is simple, colorful, and expressive. Children will be able to relate to this realistic portrayal of bullying in the lower grades of elementary.