A slightly new twist on the kid-getting-bullied story.
Janine is certainly her own girl. She sings loudly on the bus, talks to her imaginary friend, and remembers unusual things like the number of steps from here to there and classmates’ phone numbers. While everyone else is playing, Janine reads the dictionary or eavesdrops. One day, while she appears to be making a list, she overhears a classmate who is passing out a party invitation. She is quickly told that the party is “only for COOL kids!” (Among the depicted “cool kids” are an Asian-American girl, an African-American girl and a boy whose skin is relatively dark.) The birthday girl mocks Janine’s style, insulting everything from her fancy vocabulary to her choice of friends: “Janine, you are STRANGE! You have to CHANGE!” In the background, the “cool kids” become progressively more uncomfortable with the birthday girl’s meanness, so when Janine invites all the kids to a party of her own, they are poised to accept eagerly. It’s nice to examine how a group can choose kindness and thus take away a bully’s power. Charming illustrations highlight Janine’s independent style and unfailing optimism. Teachers looking for a positive solution should reach for this one. Children will enjoy knowing that Janine is actually the author’s daughter.
An optimistic but nevertheless real solution to a common school problem. (Picture book. 5-9)