illustrated by Mikela Prevost
Interest Level: Ages 8-10
About This Book: When Bailey comes to Hoover Elementary, Maya is picked to be her Welcome Buddy. At first, Maya likes having a new, lively friend, but at a sleepover, Bailey is cruel to another girl. Later, she overhears a conversation on the playground and broadcasts confidential information. Finally, after listening to Maya's parents fight, she spreads the rumor that they're getting a divorce, causing Maya to seek the school counselor's help. Ms. Bloom defines Bailey's actions as "trouble talk…. Spreading rumors, saying hurtful things, and sharing information that isn't hers to share are examples of the kind of talk that leads to nothing but trouble." She gives Maya tips on how to not get involved and to choose instead "kids who make you feel safe." As the story ends, Bailey works to remedy her conduct. Given the prevalence of these behaviors, young readers will readily identify with Maya's dilemma and appreciate the straightforward text. Colorful and expressive mixed-media art depicts a refreshing and realistic multicultural schoolyard. A foreword, geared toward adults, gives insight into this type of bullying, discussing the need to connect with others in constructive rather than destructive ways. Appended are an author's note with further tips for addressing the problem, discussion questions, and additional resources.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: Gossiping and relational aggression becomes even more prominent throughout the upper elementary school years. I felt like I hit the girl bully book lottery when I found this Trudy Ludwig gem. I love that Trudy uses phrases like 'trouble talk' and 'friendship-tug-of-war.' I have explored those phrases with students and there is serious meaning behind them. Spend time discussing the consequences of the behavior displayed during the story. The girl who causes all of the 'trouble talk' has to deal with those consequences, possibly not having any friends. I can tell the students relate to what's going on in the book and it empowers them to avoid Trouble Talk behavior. Get it on your shelf immediately!
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