Submitter: This is another children’s book that was initially pulled because of its condition. It has had a lot of circulation since it was acquired in 1989 but only 2 circulations in 20 years. On closer inspection, the book sent up all kinds of red flags. The “story” is about a group of boys who are friends told through poetry. The book could easily be renamed “Boys will be boys,” but it is pretty hard to excuse the bad behavior described in the book. They pick on and make fun of other children, attempt smoking, fight, break windows, pick noses, etc. Harvey has the worst behavior and goes so far as to tie two of his friends to a tree and pull their pants down! Finally, the other boys become fed up with Harvey and decide to roll him down the hill.
I have a pretty low tolerance for books that actual encourage bullying and hurting of kids by other kids. I suppose at one time this could have been nostalgic or even a boys will be boys kind of book, but not anymore.
Holly: Awwww, Jack Prelutsky was one of my favorite authors when I was a kid <*cough* 30+ years ago *cough*>. His books are funny and the poetry format is enticing to reluctant readers. That said, bullying is a serious subject. Rolling Harvey down the hill in retaliation probably isn’t the message we’re trying to send these days. Not that it ever was, but we have different sensibilities about these things now than we did in 1980.
Submitter: This is a “sensitive” story about Rita who is overweight. Rita has to face being weighed in front of her entire class and being told she needs to go on a diet. She then is bullied by her classmates in art class and swim class. She uses food to deal with her emotions. But after some effort, Rita finally looses weight where she is told she is a healthy girl and no one bullies her anymore.
This book came to our attention after a horrified story time mom found it on the shelf. The book has not circulated in at least ten years. I took the time to read the book and the story has a lot of mixed messages. Childhood obesity is certainly an important, but complex topic, that would be difficult to tell in a short children’s story. A lot of things are glossed over like bullying and self-esteem. The doctor says she needs a diet at one weight and then after losing only 5 pounds she is suddenly healthy. I don’t know how one writes a book for kids on this topic, but this one is not it.
Holly: Books like this bother me more than just about any other thing. Jennifer Jean the Cross-Eyed Queen got her eyes fixed and suddenly had friends. Maggie went on a diet and suddenly had friends. Make it stopppppp!
Robbie is the new kid at school, and of course his mom is embarrassing. First day on the bus, he runs into a bully. Not a great way to start the day. Robbie decides he is in need of a makeover and changes his jeans and his name. Robert is a much cooler name than Robbie. Too bad his parents don’t get it. But wait! His new “book buddy” is none other than said bully from the bus. Bo was held back and has some anger issues. These two guys become friends and lo and behold Robbie realizes it isn’t new jeans or a new name but confidence that makes one cool.