When a classmate hurts a little girl’s feelings, her teacher puts things in perspective in this debut picture book.
Ze, a cheerful brown-skinned girl, loves soccer, art, and math. But one day, a classmate says something mean to Ze, “the worst thing ever,” leaving the girl curled up on the floor, crying. Her teacher, Miss Work, comforts her; she acknowledges Ze’s wounded feelings, saying they’re part of life, although you don’t have to let people hurt you either. Writing down positive statements about Ze like “I know I am creative,” the teacher attaches them to a cutout heart. By remembering these truths, Ze can make her heart strong, brave, and dependable, says Miss Work: “Wrap your sadness with it. It will help you feel better.” The girl’s heart becomes so mighty that when a student cries from bruised feelings, Ze can console her. In her story, Sbarboro offers a practical approach to bullying. Affirmations can help strengthen self-esteem as well as providing a constructive activity rather than merely depending on “don’t bully” messages. And Ze doesn’t have to do anything extraordinary to earn good treatment, as in many kids’ books. The illustrations by Leach (Mommy, Please Don’t Go to Work!, 2018, etc.) depict a diverse classroom, combining mostly flat colors with scribbly scrawls that deftly express emotions.
A well-written, useful process for children dealing with bullies.