Friday, November 19, 2010

Unpopular Review

I just wrote what I think will be a very unpopular review on Amazon for a book called Stephanie's Ponytail by Robert Munsch.  Here's the gist of my review...

When I was in my 20s, I had a conversation with my dad once and he said something that has always stuck in my head. He said that if someone is mean to him, he's going to be mean right back--but even worse. I said, "really?" He asked me if I wouldn't do the same. I replied, "No! Because if someone is hurting me then that means that they feel even worse." Bullying is a big problem right now in schools, but I don't believe that teaching kids to trick bullies (and essentially bully them right back) is the answer. 

None of the negative reviews of this book on Amazon have actually talked about the plot of this book. Stephanie goes to school and kids make fun of her ponytail. The kids say to her "ugly! ugly! ugly!" She calls them "brainless copycats". Being a school teacher, I can just imagine both phrases spreading like wildfire across a K-2 classroom when the teachers aren't present. The successive days she wears her hair in different styles until at the end she says she's going to shave her head and everyone else does it the next day--to make fun of her, but she comes to school with her hair in a ponytail. She laughs and then they all chase after her angrily. 

There is a brand of humor spreading in schools that really concerns me as a parent. How is this book funny? Is it funny to make fun of a child? Is it funny to imitate the Ugly! Ugly! chant? Is it wise to laugh when she tricks them--out of spite--at the end of the book? My girls did not get at all that this book was unkind until I discussed it with them and then it left our house. 

There is a book called Nurture Shock that I highly recommend. In it is a chapter about educational television. Do you think educational television would make children more or less aggressive? The research says... more! What kids really remember is not the conclusion and the resolution, but all the focus on conflict in the middle. I think this book falls into the same category. What are kids really going to remember more about this book? That when someone hits you you should hit back harder? Or that you shouldn't be sassy and make fun of other kids?

If you have a minute and are willing, would you look up this review on Amazon if you agree with me (I am am listed as Anne from Baltimore, MD, a vine voice, and Top 1000 reviewer) and click to say that my review is helpful.  Thank you!  I did just post it so it might not be up yet.  Hopefully, it will be by tomorrow or Sunday.

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