Gina Dawson (text) and Kate Bouman (illustrator), We Can Deal With Bullying! Empowerment for Young People, New Holland Publishers, January 2020, 64 pp., RRP $22.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760791438
There are some very strong and powerful messages and help strategies within this book, both for young people of all ages being bullied but also for the bully, the main one being that Bullying is never a joke and is never okay.
Dawson would rather use the term target for the person being bullied over the more usual victim because she wants to remove the concept of helplessness which often goes with the word victim. However, for me, she wasn’t always consistent enough.
The author constantly reminds the target to find someone to help, and to share what is happening. This is a very important point that needs to be pointed out to all children, and a book like this helps to ensure that message is sent.
For me the best section was the one on how to cope with the different kinds of bullying – physical, verbal, threats and blackmail, sexual, cyberbullying and sexting; followed by a short focus on what bullies themselves can do to change their behaviour.
My criticisms of the book stem from the layout: its narrative format and repetitive page structures. There is good use of coloured headings, but because of the narrative layout, there’s not enough ‘white space’ and new topics sometimes start towards the bottom of the page. There would be more impact had they been given a new page.
There are certainly some readers who will learn lots about dealing with bullying through reading this book, but many younger, and perhaps more sensitive readers might deal better with the content if an older person reads the book with them to help them understand and process the content.
It’s a good start for those coping with bullying.
Reviewed by Maureen Mann