Debut author and retired educator Dudley takes on the subject of bullying through the adventures of Siggy, a spunky, one-winged mockingbird.
Ever since he was adopted by Mama Sparrow, Siggy has led a blissful life in his forest home. Or, at least, it would be—if he could escape the persistent bullying of Ickie and Vickie, a pair of mean-spirited blue jays who like to pick on other birds. When the jays corner Siggy on a strawberry-gathering expedition, he uses his own special gift for mimicking others’ voices to outwit them. Later, he learns the importance of discussing social problems with an adult. Dudley emphasizes the story’s moral in a brief discussion guide that follows the main text, offering questions and advice for children who are currently being victimized by bullies. Debut illustrator Reynolds’ snappy, comic-book style illustrations will likely draw in reluctant readers, but the story itself falls short in its refusal to grapple with real-life complexities. For example, she renders the characters in a reductive, good-or-evil fashion, and many children many not be convinced by the ease with which Siggy resolves his problems. Occasionally mawkish or stilted dialogue contributes to the lack of authenticity, and some lines seem almost expressionless: “They’re being mean to everyone today. You should watch out.” Readers may also find Siggy’s family interactions a little saccharine. That said, it’s refreshing to read a children’s book in which single-parent families, adopted children and disabilities are portrayed as normal and unremarkable, and the resources at the end of the book may help spark frank conversations about the issues Dudley raises.
An endearing, if slightly stiff , children’s book about bullying.