Tough! (Book 3: The Weird Series)
Written by Erin Frankel
Illustrated by Paula Heaphy
Tough! pulls off the difficult feat of being an engaging story for young readers and an effective discussion starter.It is part of a trilogy — the other two in the series are Weird! and Dare!. The three books are written from different viewpoints; Tough is Sam’s (the bully) story. Weird! is written from the perspective of the bullied, and Dare! is the bystander’s viewpoint.
We learn that bullying involves at least three people — the bully, the bullied and the disinterested bystander. Sam is tough. That is the way she gets through life: by making the rules so things stay under control. This is a discussion point right here: Is that the only way to keep things under control? Can others participate in making the rules? She has created a tough skin around herself for protection so other’s jokes and words don’t hurt. So deeply engrained is the habit that she cannot see that other people could be hurt by her words and actions.
Third grade readers will relate to the story, maybe even see themselves and their classmates in it. Bullying is prevalent everywhere. The book is not exactly a graphic story, but is designed for ease of comprehension. Sentences are arranged in and around picture, in callouts, in small paragraphs. There is just enough color in the illustrations to draw attention away from the mainly black-and-white pictures. In fact, it is almost a code: the character being spoken about on the page is in color, the rest of the picture is in black-and-white. A wonderful, wonderful book about the power of caring and love to turn a life around, filled with useful information and exercises in the back matter.
Leader’s Guide to the Weird Series