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Songwriters Seskin and Shamblin laudably sound a call for tolerance in this picture-book adaptation of a heartfelt tune that inspired, and has become the anthem for, a rapidly expanding educational program within an organization called Operation Respect (founded by Yarrow, of Peter, Paul & Mary). The text/lyrics focus on the ridicule suffered by a boy with glasses, a girl who wears braces and a wheelchair-bound child, among others, ultimately uniting the voices of the bullied in the verse "Don't laugh at me./ Don't call me names./ Don't get your pleasure from my pain./ In God's eyes we're all the same." Though the book's worthy message will likely strike a universal chord, young readers may be confused by the overly figurative sentiment "I'm fat, I'm thin,/ I'm short, I'm tall,/ I'm deaf, I'm blind./ Hey, aren't we all?" In earth-toned mixed-media artwork that blends watercolor, acrylics, wallpaper and other materials, Dibley (Tub Boo Boo) exaggerates the distinguishing features of his stylized characters, further bringing home the book's theme. His compositions use muted colors and crowd scenes to set off the ostracized subject; the boy "chosen last" on the playground becomes a shadowy outline under a basketball hoop as smiling kids crowd the foreground; a kid "slower than the others in my class" peers out of a sea of raised hands. A CD recording of the country-flavored song is included. Ages 6-12.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Grade 3-5-Starting as a song encouraging kindness to others, the tune has now become the anthem of the "Don't Laugh at Me Program" founded by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary. However, what works beautifully in a song is quite different in a book and should be shared with care. It is easy to discuss not laughing at difference if the differences aren't in your classroom. It is easier to sing about being fat, thin, short, etc., but breezing through this book without discussion would be foolish and the discussion could be volatile. Dibley's mixed-media artwork exaggerates the features of a boy with glasses and big ears; a girl with braces complete with headgear and a wisp of a body; a dark, slouching figure with no face "who's always chosen last"; a pencil chewing, chapped-lipped, uneven-eyed slow kid; a street beggar no one sees; and a kid in a wheelchair with a crash helmet. The last two lines-"I'm fat, I'm thin, I'm short, I'm tall,/I'm deaf, I'm blind. Hey, aren't we all?"-drive home the message with a slam dunk. The words "Help stop bullying-buy this book & CD of the song!" appear on the cover. If only it were so easy.
Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This is one fun book and should be of a little help to kids that feel alienated. And, who hasn't felt that way at least once in their lives? Read morePublished on Sept. 27 2002 by JetPak