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Just Kidding Hardcover – April 1, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1-5–This companion to My Secret Bully (Tricycle, 2005) addresses the topic of teasing. D.J. is tired of Vince's mean-spirited comments at school. Vince knows which buttons to push, using the I was just kidding defense when he goes too far. Unsure how to handle the situation, D.J. talks with his father and his teacher and learns a few strategies to help him deal with putdowns. Most importantly, he realizes that he isn't the problem and that he hasn't done anything to deserve Vince's taunts. This frank and plausible story will help youngsters to distinguish between good-natured teasing and the destructive variety, empowering them by providing options they can use when faced with bullying. Realistic acrylic paintings beautifully capture the text's mood and action. Gustavson is adept at revealing the subtle emotions of his characters, and both D.J. and Vince will strike a familiar chord with readers. A foreword by a bullying-prevention consultant outlines four points that educators and parents need to impart to victims of this behavior. Also provided are conversation starters for further discussion, a list of pertinent organizations and Web sites, and suggested reading for both adults and children. This useful resource is an important addition to school and public libraries.–Carol L. MacKay, Forestburg School Library, Alberta, Canada
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
K-Gr. 3. Waiting to be chosen for a pickup game of basketball, D. J. hears Vince challenge Cody to a game of Rock Paper Scissors: "Loser gets D. J." It's not the first time Vince has crossed the line, but D. J. can't figure out how to respond. With a helpful suggestion from his dad and support from a teacher, D. J. begins to handle his problem. The story offers a realistic portrayal of a bully who uses words in hurtful ways but avoids punishment. It also offers hope that children can break the pattern, at least if the adults around them are aware of the problem, competent to deal with it, and supportive of the children involved. The book concludes with a list of "Teasing Dos and Don'ts" for kids. In addition, a detailed foreword offers suggestions to parents and teachers trying to help children in this situation. The well-composed illustrations, apparently acrylic paintings, offer sensitive portrayals of children in realistic settings. Pair this with Becky Ray McCain's Nobody Knew What to Do (2001). Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
D.J., a tween (8-12 years) faces his nemesis Vince, who hounds, heckles and harasses him. Whenever D.J. complains that Vince is verbally drawing blood, the latter gives him the stock comment of he's just kidding and can't D.J. take a joke. I have known adults do this to children and believe me, that does NOT engender good feelings nor teach humor. When adults do this to children, it makes children feel like they have no recourse and that "sense of humor" means endure somebody having fun at their expense. It teaches deceit, e.g. going along and pretending to find it funny; avoiding dressing downs and questioning the existence of their OWN senses of humor when all the while resentment and erosion of esteem is building.
However, peer teasing escalates to physical violence as is shown in this story. Vince steps up his verbal abuse of D.J. and humiliates him in front of their teammates. That is bad enough, but when he starts hitting D.J. on the bus, D.J. knows he has to take his concerns to someone who can help.
D.J.'s dad gives him bad advice when he says D.J. can't fight back verbally or physically to Vince. We all know that ignoring bullies often steps up their harassment campaign. Luckily, the boy's father takes D.J.'s concerns to his teacher, who wisely includes the school counselor.
I've been targeted by bullies and I've seen this time and again. I was told to "deal with it;" "s/he's only kidding;" "can't you take a joke;" "where's your sense of humor" and I even had teachers do this. In one case, a teacher wrote that a child was "happier than ever" because the child stopped verbally objecting to the teacher's snide personal comments, cloaked in the guise of "humor." Whenever that child objected, the child was upbraided for not having a sense of humor and how important it is to laugh at oneself. Horse feathers! The child was NOT happier than ever; this was a child with Asperger's who was "giving the desired response" so as to avoid disfavor and further repercussions, all of which was disclosed during later interviews.
That is what NOT to do when a child is being hounded by bullies. No child should be taught to be a silent, emotional masochist and accept this kind of treatment from anyone. There is NO excuse for it and it is paramount to defend one's own child instead of making excuses for Other People's Children. In recent years, I have seen adults on talk shows describe how heckling and harmful peers have impacted their current lives and hurt their esteem.
I recommend this book along with MY SECRET BULLY and SORRY. No parent or educator should be without these three gems of wisdom.