Book Review: Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are

Author: Maria Dismondy
illustrated by Kimberly Shaw-Peterson
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

From the Book Jacket: How can Ralph be so mean? Lucy is one of a kind and Ralph loves to point that out. Lucy's defining moment comes when Ralph truly needs help. Because she knows what she stands for, Lucy has the courage to make a good choice. This charming story empowers children to always do the right thing and be proud of themselves, even when they are faced with someone as challenging as Ralph.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This one's been on my wish list forever! The title sure grabs you and so will the story. As a school counselor it's got everything I need to talk to students about differences and bullying. But here's what I really drove home with the kids - it can be difficult to show respect to someone who is mistreating you. I see this in my school ALL the time. Kids (and adults by the way) see this as a way to protect and defend themselves.

Enter Lucy. More like, enter KIND CHILD, who does what is right and shows kids you don't have to bully back to win. We need to make kindness more popular than bullying! I'm so passionate about this...okay anyways.....she is taunted and teased by Ralph, but doesn't give in to the temptation to bully back. She rises above because of her grandfather's words in the first few pages, "Remember, when you treat others with love and kindness, you are doing the right thing."

Okay, call me crazy but I still believe in the magic of smothering 'mean' people with kindness. Essentially this lets them know they can't push your buttons. This doesn't mean we want our kids to turn into a bunch of door mats. But we want them to use the BEST PART of who they are and not join in on the 'back and forth' bully game. Lately, I'm teaching more about empathy, compassion, and being your best self. Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun has reminded me of one of the ultimate strategies to combat bullying - respect, kindness, and be your best self. Recently, I had a student report to me at recess that she had just received a put down. When I asked how she responded, her response was, "I said - I'm sorry you are having a bad day. And then I just walked away." And I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. (i love my job!) This was one of the role plays the kids and I worked on. Don't doubt the power of assertive kindness ever!

Watch the book trailer on author Maria Dismondy's website. She's also the author of Juice Box Bully, a very relevant and important story about the power of bystanders. Maria's books are making a DAILY difference in my school. Kids are learning how to WIN when it comes to bullying - and sometimes it comes in the form of kindness.

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

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