Adam Gustavson

Book Review: Just Kidding

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Just Kidding 

by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Adam Gustavson

Ages 7-10, 32 pages

Realistic Fiction

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Of course, this saying is far from the truth because words impact someone’s emotions. D.J. feels this way about Vince who always states ‘Hey, I was just kidding.’ whenever D.J. gets upset about something Vince says or does. D.J. explains his frustrations to his dad who says it’s difficult to understand why someone is mean. His dad gives him a strategy to use when he’s picked on, but states that you can’t say or do anything mean back to the teaser. When Vince jokes about a boy’s hair and calls him ‘Bed Head’ D.J. messes up his hair too. Vince doesn’t say anything else, since his joke is no longer funny. D.J. tells his teacher when Vince put gum on his chair. His teacher, his dad, and D.J. discuss how to handle the issue and hang with others who make you feel good. However, D.J. doesn’t want to be a tattletale so the teacher explains that “Tattling is when you’re trying to get someone in trouble. Reporting is when you’re trying to help someone in trouble, D.J. you’re reporting because you’re in trouble and you need help.”

I think Just Kidding is a great book to use for bullying, because often teasing goes too far and it is no longer funny. The book provides teasing dos and don’ts, additional information about what to do when you are bullied, and story questions for discussion. I like that this book highlights the child speaking to adults for help. Children are often afraid to come forward about bullying and teasing, because they have fears to be labeled a tattle teller.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun to kid around with your friends and family. But I learned the hard way that when a joke has a sharp edge to it, it can cut you to pieces.

– Trudy Ludwig (Just Kidding)