Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Review: Bully Bean by Thomas Weck and Peter Weck

With October being National Bully Prevention Awareness Month, I was happy to review a complimentary copy of Bully Beans by Thomas Weck and Peter Weck, illustrated by Len DiSalvo.

Bully Beans is a picture book that is geared towards children up to age 7 and is the story of Lima Bear, a bean in the kingdom of Beandom, who is bullied by Bully Bean, the tallest and strongest bean around.  Bully Bean torments Lima Bear till one day, he gets himself in trouble.  Lima Bean runs for safety, only to return with help.  In the end, after being helped by Lima Bear and other beans, Bully Bean has a change of heart and becomes a productive citizen.
This book is a retelling of stories told by Thomas Weck to his son, Peter, as a child.  Together, the father and son duo decided to capture these stories and put them in print.

I was interested in seeing my daughters' response to the book.  This is what they had to say:
"It was fun.  I didn't like that they chanted mean stuff about Bully Bean.  And why was it "beans' when they (the characters) are bears?  I liked that they thought they should help him (Bully Bean) out.  I liked that Bully Bean had a change of heart and that the other beans changed his name at the end.  They also had a nice chant about him at the end.  I liked the pictures and how Lima Bear looked.  He's really cute."
Their perspective really enlightened me.  Although the story doesn't say who says the chant, my girls perceived it as picking on Bully Bean. I would have to agree since they refer to Bully Bean as "bad."  Here is the chant:
"Oh bad Bully Bean,What makes you so mean?  Whenever you're near, we all run in fear." 
So, in a book about bullying, we find that the bully, is, in essence, bullied by being put-down by someone.  Somehow, this doesn't sit well with me.

I also am not sure I understand the connection with calling these bears, as illustrated, beans.  Are they beans or bears?

I do agree with my children in that I liked that Lima Bear and the other "beans" ended up helping Bully Bean when he was in trouble and were open to accepting his change of heart.

My favorite part of the book is the Extend the Learning section at the end.  This is a really useful tool in getting children to think and learn more about the story.  I feel this section was well written with useful questions and ideas to "extend the learning" and have a better understanding of bullying.

I think with a couple tweaks, this could be a great book.  But when a 7 year old points out that the bully is being bullied with a putdown in the chant throughout the book, there is a problem.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate this review.  As always, this review contains my honest opinions.

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