Book Review: Yoon and the Jade Bracelet

Posted on Updated on

Yoon and the Jade Bracelet 

Written by Helen Recorvits
Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Published August 5th 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, Cultural, Korean, Bullying, Friendship
Ages: 6-9, 32 pages 

More than anything Yoon wants to fit in at school and make friends, so what she desires for her birthday is a jump rope. Yoon believes that the children will let her play jump rope with them and she’ll finally have some friends. When it is her birthday, Yoon’s mother gives her a Korean story book about a little girl who tricked a tiger. The special present Yoon receives is a jade bracelet that was her grandmother’s. Symbols inside the jade bracelet mean Shining Wisdom. Neither present is a jump rope, but Yoon pretends to be happy. At school a girl notices her jade bracelet and tells Yoon how beautiful it is. If she lets Yoon wear it the girl promises to be her friend and she can jump rope. Yoon knows deep down that she shouldn’t give such a special item, but she finally lets the girl borrow it for one day. However, the girl doesn’t give it back and Yoon’s mother believes she lost it. Yoon begs to have her jade bracelet back and tells the teacher it is hers. The teacher asks Yoon how she can prove it is hers. Yoon whispers that inside it is written Shinning Wisdom, but the other girl can’t tell what it says. Yoon gets her jade bracelet back and is the tiger who tricked the girl.

I really enjoyed Yoon and the Jade Bracelet, since you may not see this type of bullying often in books. It shows the cultural importance between her mother. Yoon is the same character from My Name is Yoon.

Book Review: Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

Posted on Updated on

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow

Ages 5-7, 32 pages

Realistic Fiction

Molly Lou Melon is the shortest first grader, has buck teeth, sounds like a bullfrog, and is very clumsy. However, her grandma tells Molly Lou Melon to walk tall, smile bright, sing clear with joy, and believe in yourself. She attends a new school and a fellow student, Ronald Durkin, teases her. Molly Lou Melon proves that she can do anything as she’s a great football player, balances pennies on her buck teeth, and makes beautiful paper snowflakes. Ronald Durkin feels foolish that Molly Lou Melon accomplishes great tasks after teasing her. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon is a great book to teach children to be proud and confident about who they are. The pictures are bright, colorful, and fun.

Book Review: Say Something

Posted on Updated on

Say Something

by Peggy Moss, illustrated by Lea Lyon

Ages 6-8, 32 pages

Realistic Fiction

There are many forms of bullying and one aspect is the bystander who doesn’t say or do anything about it. Say Something follows the viewpoint of a girl who notices students being teased, pushed, and called names but she doesn’t say anything. She moves to the other side of the hall or sits away where others are being bullied, yet the teasing still continues. One day she’s forced to sit alone at lunch and students laugh with her, but then she realizes that the jokes are about her and starts crying. When the students leave she notices that students she knows were nearby, but didn’t say anything. She explains to her brother that she’s upset at the kids at the table. He responds back “Why? They didn’t do anything.” The next day, the girl starts a conversation with a girl who others teased and discovers she’s quite funny. The book’s conclusion is brief, so there can more discussion about what happened to other students. The book provides details about how you can make a difference when you see someone being teased. Say Something won the Teacher’s Choice Award in 2005.

One person speaking up makes more noise than a thousand people who remain silent.

– Thom Harnett (Civil Rights Attorney)

Book Review: Just Kidding

Posted on Updated on

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)



Book Review: The Recess Queen

Posted on Updated on

The Recess Queen 

by Alexis O’Neil, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

Ages 5-7, 32 pages

Realistic Fiction, Bullying

Mean Jean was the recess queen who controlled everything at recess. Nobody kicked or bounced a ball, until Mean Jean got there first. If anyone got in her way, she’d push them. This changed when a new student, Katie Sue, arrived at school who wasn’t intimated by Mean Jean at recess. Katie Sue was too new to know anything about Mean Jean. Mean Jean continued bullying other students at recess. Katie Sue then asked: “How did you get so bossy?” Katie Sue grabbed the ball and bounced away. Finally, Katie Sue asked Mean Jean if she’d like to jump rope: “I like ice cream, I like tea, I want Jean to jump with me!” Now, recess time is different as children play together and Jean doesn’t push or bully anyone.

Bullying is a very serious issue that unfortunately occurs and children often have difficulty handling it. I liked this book, but I had a problem with Katie Sue taking the ball and almost teasing Mean Jean that she now has the ball and nobody can stop her. Two wrongs don’t make a right. However, Katie Sue started a friendly activity when she asked her to jump rope. The Recess Queen is a good book to introduce playing fair and not bullying others.




Book Review: King of the Playground

Posted on Updated on

King of the Playground 

by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

illustrated by Nola Langner Malone

Ages 5-7, 32 pages

Realistic Fiction

Kevin loves playing at the playground, but only if Sammy isn’t there. Every day Kevin goes to the playground then Sammy states that he’s the King of the Playground and he controls what Kevin can do. Each time that Sammy puts him down and says he can’t play he tells his father about the problem. Kevin’s father makes him understand that Sammy is basically telling tall tales and he’s not really going to tie him up, dig a hole and bury him, or nail all the windows and doors shut. Finally, Sammy says that he’ll put him in a cage with bears then Kevin lightly responds that he’ll just teach them tricks or make himself slide through the cage. Kevin gives Sammy a friendly challenge to try to dig a tunnel in a sandbox. Sammy doesn’t admit that digging a tunnel isn’t possible, but eventually they work together to build towers in the sandbox.