An internal monologue recounts an episode of bullying.
An unnamed, ungendered narrator is getting bullied at school. This school-aged child’s inescapable nemesis is Bully B. A spare script with pointed headlines describes daily occurrences: “What Bully B. Does Today: Looks me up and down. Shoves my books. Calls me Weirdo. / What Her Friends Do: Laugh. / What Everyone Else Does: Nothing.” However, the young protagonist is unsure of how to ask for help. “What I Say When Mom Asks How My Day at School Was: Fine.” This trenchant storytelling style is immediate and arresting. The staccato words capture both the sting of harsh actions and the matter-of-fact resignation that bullied children often feel. Sookocheff’s gray color palette with muted blues and greens intensifies the isolation. When the narrator does finally admit what is happening, Mom’s response is refreshing. She gives a lot of discussion time to how Bully B. may be feeling and why. She offers adult intervention as an option, but she also suggests a way for the kids to work it out between themselves. Nothing is perfect; the two certainly don’t end up being best friends, but an understanding is reached. The narrator is literally depicted as blue, and Bully B. as chartreuse, while the other children are colorless. Following the rapprochement, the two are revealed to have pale skin, while their classmates are revealed to be diverse.
It’s impossible to find a solution that will solve every bullying situation, but empathy is always a fine place to start. (Picture book. 5-8)