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Friday, August 12, 2011

Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully review


In this latest addition to the Kissing Hand book collection, Chester Raccoon must learn to deal with another common problem of childhood: a bully at school.

When Mrs. Raccoon learns that there is a bully problem at school, she decides to investigate the situation. But after seeing the bully for herself, she shares a story about a forest that was full of smooth yellow stones, and how the animals living there changed a pointy stone they found into a smooth stone so that it wouldn't hurt any tender paws.

Chester,Ronny, and Cassy follow the spirit of Mrs. Raccoon's story when they next encounter the Bully. Approaching him as a group, they invite him to play, proving that the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him or her a friend.

This book encourages children to understand that many child bullies are themselves unhappy and gives readers a good example of settling differences by peaceful means. Educators will embrace this story about a positive strategy for dealing with a bully.

My Review:
I really enjoy the Chester Raccoon stories.  They are always a positive example of love.  This one however, is not on my list of favorites.  The illustrations are beautiful, the story has a great moral message.  However, I found it a bit unrealistic and in today's world my concern is that some children are going to read this and get hurt.

Today the school bully, even in elementary schools, is less apt to back down and have a change of heart than he or she is to lash out and fight when a group of kids stand up rather than cower back.  In my neck of the woods at the very least Chester, Ronny and Cassy would have been labeled school bullies when "finally Chester was nose to nose with the trembling badger (bully).  He narrowed his eyes and looked as serious as his little furry face would allow."  Around here that is the point that a teacher would step in and Chester, Ronny and Cassy would never have had the chance to ask the badger to play.  Besides, few bullies I have ever known would stand still long enough to allow him or herself to be cornered like that much less allow those children to laugh at him while he or she was scared and then accept the offer to play.

Penn delivers a wonderful message, in that often times the bully isn't so much picking on you as he or she is wanting to be accepted.  I agree with that completely.  However rarely does the bully respond so quickly to overtures of friendship.  While I want my children to be willing to befriend anyone, I think it may have been a better book had Chester, Ronny or Cassy approached the bully in a less intimidating way.  This made me feel like it was encouraging them to gang up on the badger in a show of force rather than truly extending the hand of friendship.


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