Book Review: The Weird Series

Weird! Dare! Tough!
by Erin Frankel, illustrated by Paula Heaphy
Book Website:
Publisher: Free Spirit
Interest Level: K and Up

True-to-life stories of bullying told from all perspectives: the role of the target, the bystander, and the person doing the bullying.

These three books tell the story of an ongoing case of bullying from three third graders’ perspectives. Luisa describes being targeted by bullying in Weird! Jayla shares her experience as a bystander to bullying in Dare! And in Tough!, Sam speaks from the point of view of someone initiating bullying. Kids will easily relate to Luisa, Jayla, and Sam, as each girl has her own unique experience, eventually learning how to face her challenges with the help of friends, peers, and caring adults. The books may be read separately or as a set; readers will enjoy tracking details that carry over from one book to another. Each book concludes with "activity club" pages for kids, as well as information to help parents, teachers, counselors, and other adults reinforce the books' messages and foster dialogue with children.

Weird! (Book 1)
Luisa is repeatedly teased and called "weird" by her classmate Sam, even though she is simply being herself—laughing with her friends, answering questions in class, greeting her father in Spanish, and wearing her favorite polka-dot boots. Luisa initially reacts to the bullying by withdrawing and hiding her colorful nature. But with the support of her teachers, parents, classmates, and one special friend named Jayla, she is able to reclaim her color and resist Sam’s put-downs.

Dare! (Book 2)
Jayla feels threatened by her classmate Sam, who has bullied her in the past for her "nerdy" love of astronomy and stars. Sam is now bullying Jayla’s friend Luisa, and she enlists Jayla to participate. Jalya reluctantly joins in but soon realizes it is wrong. With the help of caring adults and friends, Jayla comes to sympathize with Luisa and finds the courage to dare to stand up to Sam and put an end to the bullying.

 Tough! (Book 3)
Sam is concerned about keeping things orderly and "cool" at school. She thinks people need to have a tough skin in order to fit in and withstand others’ meanness and lack of cooperation. Sam teases her free-spirited classmate Luisa and enlists a friend, Jayla, to help. But when Sam is confronted by a concerned teacher about her bullying, and Jayla turns on Sam and befriends Luisa, Sam begins to show some heart and rethink her treatment of others.

Why They Are On My Bookshelf: These books are already so dear to my heart. Author Erin Frankel and illustrator Paula Heaphy have created a masterpiece through the viewpoints of the victim, bystander, and bully. I had the opportunity to read this unique series to students before the school year wrapped up. They were all captivated by the stories of three girls involved in bullying. It was obvious through our discussion their hearts and minds were very moved. Everyone has had a role or involvement in bullying and kids could see themselves in the books.

As a school counselor, I want to reach students at a deeper level when it comes to the serious issue of school bullying. This perfectly crafted story is the vehicle to do just that. I can't tell you how impressed I am with this series. The first day I read them, I knew I had something special in my hands. Students are given valuable insight into how to get out of a bullying situation and make positive changes through confidence, courage, and kindness. I cannot wait to reread these in the fall. They are truly awesome and so impactful!

A Link to The Series:


  1. Anonymous27 June, 2012


    Thank you so much for writing our very first review! It was a real labor of love and we hope to reach as many children as possible so thank you for putting the word out. I am thrilled that you love the series!


    Paula Heaphy

  2. Interesting. Thank you! I'm going to check out this series.