Red book cover

A powerful story that deals with bullying and how difficult it is for children to speak out.

Picture book, fiction
Interest Level: K-3; Reading Level: 1.5
3 out of 5 stars

The style of the illustrations make this a very powerful and dramatic story. The mostly red illustrations help tell the story of a boy who is picked on because he blushes easily. A young girl notices a boy who is blushing and calls attention to his discomfort to her classmates. The more the classmates comment, the more the boy blushes. One of the students takes the taunting to the extreme and continues to harass the boy until things become physical and the teacher tries to unravel what has happened.

What makes this story special is that the bullying begins in a relatively harmless fashion. The girl did not mean to cause the blushing boy discomfort at first, she was merely commenting on his red face. However, the reader can see how easy it was for her to then go with the crowd as they continue to pick on the boy, and how difficult it was for anyone to speak out against the bully. The events and the escalation of the taunting in a group situation has a very real feel.

This is not a picture book that you would recommend to young readers looking for a pleasure read, but I can see many applications for this story in school settings. The dramatic story can be used to begin conversations about bullying and talk about ways to speak out.

I did try to read the story aloud and feel that the text has an awkward sound. It does not have a smooth flow, which also limits its ability to engage children.

by Jan De Kinder
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015
ISBN 978-0-8028-5446-9

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