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BAD ASTRID by Eileen Brennan


by Eileen Brennan ; illustrated by Regan Dunnick

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: May 28th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-375-85580-1
Publisher: Random House

This book defines wishful thinking.

First off, it has a happy ending: The narrator gets tired of being bullied and demands, “Why?...Why are you mean to me?” Astrid begins to stutter. After weeks of tipping over lemonade stands and washing away chalk drawings, she has a sudden change of heart. “I...I’m sorry...” she says. “I just wanted attention, I guess.” Then she cleans up the Popsicle-stick tower she’s just knocked over. The world really ought to work like that. The narrator just needs to perform a small act of kindness—picking Astrid up off the ground after a bike crash—and she becomes quite nice. There are hugs and thank-you’s. Say what? There may be bullies in the world who just need hugs and attention, but it’s rare for them to admit it so quickly. Even younger readers may be puzzled by the abrupt change in behavior. The rhymes are also disappointing. The low point may be: “But still her bike rolled, / and my heart sank a trifle / as there came crashing down / my Popsicle stick Eiffel!” The simple, childlike illustrations, however, are charming.

Readers may appreciate the book’s humor and psychological insight, but they shouldn’t mistake it for an instruction manual. (Picture book. 3-6)