Friday, August 22, 2008

Not so tall for six by Dianna Hutts Aston, Illustrated by Frank W. Dormer

This is the second type of picture book I hate. (First type was those mushy I-Love-My-First-Day-At-School books). This is the "Just ignore the bully and eventually you'll be able to help him/her and then you'll be friends." I detest these! I abhor them!

Ok, being objective here.

Plot: Kylie Bell is small - like all her family. And that's always been ok. But in first grade, "it's nigh impossible to see the sky with that new bully-boy Rusty Jacks slithering around like a half-starved rattlesnake." (There's a little western thang going on here). But Kylie Bell uses her brains to outsmart him - and her legs to outrun him when he gets mad. Then comes "literary circles" (guess that's the newest term for circle time). Nobody wants that mean bully in their circle. But Kylie Bell remembers her family motto "brave and smart and big at heart" and invites him in. In the end "that big ol softie Rusty Jacks" turns out to be nice.

The illustrations are a kind of wacky southwestern, with big faces and Rusty Jacks growing and shrinking to intimidate Kylie Bell. The tones are all brown, orange and gold. Kylie Bell is shown as a rather dainty, petite little girl, even when dashing wildly for safety. Rusty Jacks looks like an old-time villain, with his ten-gallon hat and mean face.

Ok, back to my subjective analysis.

Sometimes, I admit, it's true. Lots of kids will poke and tease because they want to be included. Sometimes ignoring or being friendly to a bully works.

Most of the time it does NOT. The whole point of being a bully's victim is usually feeling helpless. In other words, you don't get the opportunity to help them and win their friendship and/or undying gratitude.

And what's the teacher doing while this giant kid is terrorizing a little girl, calling her names and threatening her? And if the other kids like Kylie Bell so much, why don't they stand up for her?

I am sick of "bullies are just lonely and misunderstood and as soon as you do something nice for them they'll become your friends" books.

Verdict: Yech. Read it if you want to experience the nausea for yourself, otherwise give it a miss.

ISBN: 978-1570917059; Published January 2008 by Charlesbridge; Borrowed from the library

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