Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fall Reading 2013 Weird!, Dare!, and Tough!

I just finished the three books in the Weird! series by Erin Frankel.

Weird! shows how bullying makes the victims feel. The author shows us how Luisa feels after each of the bully's comments. She is frustrated because no matter what she changes about herself, the comments continue and she can hear Sam saying, "Weird!" When she finally talks to trusted adults about the problem, they help her find the strength to be herself. Luisa tells readers, "The more I act like I don't care what she says, the more I really don't care. And the more she thinks I don't care, the more she leaves me alone. Now that's really weird!"

Dare! shows bullying from a bystander's perspective. Jayla was a victim of Sam's bullying, but now Sam has moved on to a new target and Jayla feels relieved. She is also afraid that if she defies Sam and befriends Jayla, then Sam will start bullying her again. Jayla says, "I remember the way it felt when I was bullied, when no one dared to stand up for me. I never thought I would be the one just standing by...This isn't the kind of person I want to be." Once she chooses to be Luisa's friend, she gains confidence in herself and sees that "together, we can all play a part in making things better."

Tough! shows how bullying from the bully's perspective. We see in the illustrations that Sam is picked on at home by her brother, and seems to be acting the same way toward classmates. She particularly focuses on Luisa because "she has it easy. Always getting the right answer. Always with her friends. Always smiling." Jealousy plays a big part in her choice of victim. From what she says, it also makes her feel in control to be the one belittling others or forcing them to go along with her.

Each of the books works well together as a stand-alone, or along with the other two titles. The series is recommended by Trudy Ludwig and Dr. Michele Borba, along with Kirkus, School Library Journal and other reviewers. Each book has a glossary of terms, a reminder of what each of the girls learned, an explanation of telling vs. tattling, and notes for adults using the books with children. There is also a downloadable Leader's Guide for the series at

I read them as e-books provided by the publisher through NetGalley, but they were released for sale on September 1, 2103.

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