Stan & Jan Berenstain's The Berenstain Bears and the Bully
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
Many families have to address the issue of bullying at some point in time. The Berenstain Bears - who eventually confront every issue - are of course no exception.
Sister has been beaten up at school. Mama and Papa counsel ignoring the bully, while Brother's instinct is to go take him on himself.
Only the bully is a girl. And boys don't hit girls (at least not in Berenstain Bears world).
Brother instead takes it upon himself to secretly teach Sister how to defend herself, and she takes to the training with relish.
But this book isn't about going back to the bully and hitting her harder than she hit you.
returns to school and follows her parents' counsel about ignoring the
bully. But when the bully (named Tuffy) starts tormenting a small
animal, Sister can't help herself. When Sister admonishes Tuffy to stop hurting the
little bird, Tuffy says,
You know somethin'? I'd much rather hurt you.
The fight is on, and Sister manages to bloody Tuffy's nose.
(But that isn't really the point.)
Both children are
sent to the principal's office, where it's Tuffy who cries while she
waits. She's worried about what's in store for her when her parents find
One thing the Berenstains do well is capture multiple viewpoints. Leave it to Stan and Jan to remind us that even the bully has something going on too.
Sister figures out for herself that Tuffy "gets hit a lot at home."
The principal knows that too. So she doesn't tell Tuffy's parents about the altercation, instead sending the girl to the school psychologist.
The multiple viewpoints thing is a strength. The Berenstains have a knack for reminding us what it's like to be in someone else's shoes. Their stories tend to end with better understanding all around. That's certainly the case with The Berenstain Bears and the Bully.
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