Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Big, Bad Bully - Jack Canfield & Miriam Laundry (Illus. Eva Morales)

Stand Up to the Biggest Baddest Bully of Them All

Summary: "Pigtails are for babies!" Those were the first words Bully ever said to her.  Her cruel taunts are something she hears on a daily basis, but NO MORE!  She is determined to put a stop to it once and for all.  Will she have the courage to stand up to the biggest, baddest bully of them all - or while she just keep quiet?

Words have power.  Have you ever wondered how you can deal with your own big, bad bully?  Now you'll find help.  Fun and easy exercises at the end of this book will give you skills that you can use today -- and far into the future.

P.S. Parents and teachers will find a special bonus section just for them.

(Summary from back of book - Image from amazon.com - This book was given to me for free in exchange for an honest review)

My Review:  The Big, Bad Bully isn't your ordinary 'anti-bullying' book.  To discuss it properly, I'm going to have to do something I rarely do -- spoil the ending!  *GASP!*  I know it seems unbelievably out of character, but I promise it's necessary.

The Big Bad Bully is comprised of two main parts, both of which can be read in under a half hour.  The first half of the book is a well-illustrated, kid-friendly story about a girl struggling with and confronting a very persistent bully.  In the story portion, the bully is shown as a shadowy, mocking figure. I assumed it was another girl from class.  It wasn't until the very end that I learned her true identity; the big bad bully our protagonist faces is herself.

*WHAM*   <<< That's me getting punched in the chest, in case you were wondering.

Honestly, I don't know who needs this book more.  My kids? Or me?

The Big Bad Bully is about how we talk to ourselves and teaches that if we give them sway, the insecurities that plague us during adolescence (and, let's be honest, adulthood) can lead to increasingly negative and potentially damaging self-talk. I have had a particularly vicious inner dialogue for as long as I can remember, and it's certainly something I wish to spare my children. The Big Bad Bully served as a compelling reminder to not only silence my inner critic, but to help nurture and encourage positive self-talk in my adorable kidlets.

The Big Bad Bully doesn't diminish the message of more traditional anti-bullying books, but rather adds to the conversation and serves to highlight another problem that most people face, but rarely talk about.  From a critical standpoint, I do wish that the story portion had continued past the 'bully' reveal.  I wanted my kids to be able to see the character work through her problem, rather than just realize that she has one.  Thankfully, the rest of the book addressed my concerns.

The latter half of the book is a guide for parents, teachers, and older children that helps encourage positive self-talk.  It's not overly long, so most of it could be read to younger children, or simply be reviewed by a parent and taught informally.  It encourages an open dialogue with our children about self-talk and includes a daily mirror exercise, a helpful list of things you or a child can do to make give your inner cheerleader a boost, and some interesting activities for the family or classroom.  My favorite tip was a list of dinner time  questions to help focus the mind in a positive direction.  It seems totally doable.  And if I'm super sneaky, my kids won't even notice.

I really loved this book's message and am looking forward to putting it into practice in my own life and home.  My daughters have already read the book (and were intrigued by the ending) so I plan to read it again and have a family discussion about the dangers of negative self-talk, the importance of positive self-affirmation, and what we can do to effectively silence our big, bad bully.  Wish me luck!

My Rating:  4 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  You're all good.

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