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Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories

Review

Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories

All the profits from DEAR BULLY go to an organization called Stomp Out Bullying. That should be enough to get you to buy this book, a heart-wrenching compendium of stories by young adult authors about their own experiences with bullying --- some as the bullied and others as the bullies. It’s a hodgepodge of all the best cautionary tales, housed under one roof, all the stories that you would need to answer any and all bullying issues in your own home. Serious, not so serious, horrifying and incidental, there are so many sides to these stories and the scope is so wide that, depending on your real life experience with bullying and bullies in regards to your own life or your kids’ lives, you will find something to relate to here.

"All the profits from DEAR BULLY go to an organization called Stomp Out Bullying. That should be enough to get you to buy this book, a heart-wrenching compendium of stories by young adult authors about their own experiences with bullying --- some as the bullied and others as the bullies."

“Picking on others is learned behavior. The kid who manifests violence has learned violence somewhere. Too often, that somewhere is home. Parents should teach their children to respect diversity. But if they won’t, others must step in. It DOES take a village to raise a child who embraces all people, regardless of their differences.” Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones throw out some frightening introductory statistics about the seeming national epidemic of bullying in this country. Every seven minutes a child is bullied, 85% without intervention. A child commits suicide every half hour as a result of intensive bullying, with 19,000 kids per year making the attempts. 85% of teens say that the aftermath of being bullied seems to be the reason for the uptick in school shootings and homicides.

This isn’t a Dick and Jane primer scenario: it’s a serious and explosive problem in American culture and, although a book like this isn’t going to solve it, maybe it will help people look at this pathetic long history of evildoing and encourage parents to find new ways to prepare their children for this diversified world with compassion and less judgment.

No one is ever going to like everybody they meet. That’s a given. And perhaps we should teach our children that, even if you don’t like someone for some reason, they have no right to make their lives difficult. There is a great need for respect in this crazy technologically proficient world --- maybe it seems old school, but the stories in this volume make the case for greater efforts on everyone’s parts to ensure that future generations do not worsen the statistics and that no more lives are lost because someone wasn’t taught to tolerate people different from themselves.

Although many great writers such as Jon Sciescka, Mo Willems and Lisa Yee participate, I think the best of the pieces come from the mother-daughter writer-illustrator team of Cecil Castellucci and Lisa Bernier. This comic-book look at the dangers of bullying is both pithy and moving. These writings come together to form a portrait of an epidemic from all sides --- parents, kids,  teachers and community members. DEAR BULLY will teach and perhaps surprise the reader with its variety and breadth. There’s a lot to think about here, and I’m sure every family bookshelf has a place for it.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on December 14, 2011

Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories
edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones