One of a trio of books that present the topic of bullying from three perspectives: the bullied, the bystander and the bully.
No matter what Luisa does, from wearing her favorite polka-dot boots to telling jokes at lunch, Sam declares that she is Weird! Luisa gradually stops being herself, until her mother and friends help her realize that she is wonderful the way she is. Jayla’s fear of becoming the target governs her actions as she alternately stands by and does nothing and takes Sam’s Dare! to participate. She eventually realizes that she has lost too much to feeling scared and befriends Luisa. From glimpses of her home life, it is not hard to see why Sam acts as Tough! as she does. But her attempts at keeping things cool are not winning her any friends, and the fact that no one is playing by her rules anymore gets her to start thinking about her behavior. While the series is slightly didactic, the well-drawn characters have real problems with (mostly) credible resolutions. Extensive backmatter, with separate sections for children and adults, in each book summarizes the lessons learned and provides activities to help change ingrained behaviors. Heaphy’s pen-and-ink illustrations are dotted with highlights of color that spotlight the main characters. She is a master of facial expression and body language; Sam’s hoodie sweatshirt speaks volumes all on its own.
While the series would benefit from a boy’s version, the message is still loud and clear; this should find a home in every school library. (Picture book/bibliotherapy. 6-12)