Note: I have been flip-flopping on posts lately but it can't be helped. Good news I'll be getting my blood test results this week to find out what has been worsening my ailments. Then my doctor and I can move forward with the best health options to help.
Today I'm back with my review hat on. This story is a picture book focused on how to tackle bullying.
Title: What Happens Next by Susan Hughes (Illustrated by Carey Sookocheff)
Release Date: March 15, 2018
Summary: What Happens Next is a raw, realistic story told by an unnamed protagonist who is made to feel different from everybody else―even invisible sometimes. Bullied by a girl at school, our narrator gives a terse script of the related facts (What Her Friends Do: Laugh. What Everyone Else Does: Nothing.) and emotions (How I Feel Sometimes: Bad. Really Bad.).
The narrator takes these hurt feelings home, where Mom listens and offers some ideas. At school the next day, the child confronts the bully by turning a “weirdo” fascination with science into an opportunity to find common ground, and maybe help the bully see the world in a new way.
Spare illustrations in a limited palette of blues and greens convey feeling alone even in the hustle and bustle of a crowded schoolyard. Graphic novel–style panels set a steady pace for the emotional impact of this important story that doesn’t simplify the realities of feeling like an outsider. It’s a powerful starting point for discussions of emotions, empathy, and how we relate to others.
Stories about conquering bullies are often touching and informative. This one is no different. From good descriptions of how the bullied MC is feeling to the acts of the bully to intimidate her. Both words and images help evoke the pain of the victim and the superiority of the bully. Also, I loved showing how animals can comfort people in times of stress. Plus I felt the mother-daughter relationship was very genuine from when the child pretended to be 'fine' to when they had a talk about what was going on in school. The solution was also interesting and a different take from most books about girls being bullied by other girls. Overall a nice story for children.
My issue, however, was the way science was used in the book. While the positives of girls being interested in science is commendable. There was an underlying forced science is for girls message I didn't like. Yes, science is important but no one should be forced whether directly or subliminally to take on subjects they don't like. There's nothing wrong with loving science but a girl is no less if it's not for her. I remember as a teen having Math forced on me by my parents. It was awful and I ended up only getting worse at it until I was finally in a position to not do the subject anymore. So that scene where science was just forced into the story and used without any context to 'change' the bully bothered me. So I would say to parents that they should buy this book at their own discretion. If it does not bother you, do what you think is best for your child. I would, however, let the child know that they don't have to feel forced to take on any subject and should study and enjoy school as a whole.
Rating: 3 Stars
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