Book Review: One

Author: Kathryn Otoshi
Interest Level: Ages 5-11

About This Book: This is a deceptively simple color and counting book that turns into a lesson on bullying. Whenever they meet, Blue is picked on by Red: "Red is HOT. Blue is NOT." The other colors like Blue but are intimidated by the bluster so they say nothing, and soon Red is bossing everyone around. But then One comes. It is funny and brave and confronts Red: "If someone is mean and picks on me, I, for One, stand up and say, No." All the other colors follow One's lead and become numbers too. Yellow is two, Green, three, etc. Red begins to feel left out and tries to bully Blue, but Blue ignores him and changes to Six: "Red can be really HOT,' he says, but Blue can be super COOL.'" The rest of the numbers stick up for Blue, but offer Red the opportunity to join in the counting, and all ends well. The book is well designed with bright colored circles and numbers on stark white pages accompanied by black print. The text is very simple but meaningful, and the moral is subtly told. Red is not ostracized but included in the game, and the essential point of one person making a difference is emphasized by the ending: "Sometimes it just takes One." This is an offering with great potential for use with the very young in a variety of ways.

One turned to the colors and said,
"If someone is mean and picks on me,
I for One, stand up and say, No."

Why It's On My Bookshelf: After reading this book to a second grade class, they shouted, "read it again!" This author is brilliant. One has had a powerful impact on students. I use One to help students stand up for themselves. I get so tired of teaching kids dry bullying curriculums and they get bored with them too. This book has so much oomph and originality in it! The kind of oomph I wish more bullying curriculums had. I read it to kindergarteners but I can also read it to 5th graders, it works for all ages. If you want children to quit being bystanders, to stand up for themselves and have confidence when confronting bullying, get One on your shelf! It's creative and engaging. So well done.

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