That's Not Funny
Children's book review by P.J. Rooks
When bad things happen to good people, one of the nastier facets of human nature tends to come out in those who bear witness and, since there's no English word for it, we borrow the German word, schadenfreude.
Schadenfreude means taking pleasure in others' misfortune.
That's Not Funny by Adrian Johnson is the story of obnoxious Alfie who laughs at all the bad things that happen to the people around him. In the end, Alfie visits the circus with his grandpa and after an unlikely cascade of events, he finds himself trapped under a clumsy elephant.
The crowd at the circus first giggles, but eventually roars with hysterical laughter at Alfie's predicament -- and Alfie learns that these things aren't so funny after all.
Here's a little thing that we see kids (and even adults) do from time to time -- someone gets hurt or has an accident and the people around them laugh. Maybe it's because they are insensitive bullies, maybe it's because they find the situation very awkward, maybe it's because they feel that the best way to rescue the victim from embarrassment is to laugh it off, but in truth, it probably isn't the right approach.
That's Not Funny will help kids sort through the multiple reactions of an oft-confused society and realize that kindness, though not always the easiest or most popular response, is probably the best.
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