Sunday, July 24, 2016

Book Review: The SockKids Say NO to Bullying

The SockKids Say NO to Bullying by Michael John Sullivan, Alexandra Gold, and Shelley Larkin introduces young readers to SockKids Sudsy and Wooly, their mom Rainbow and baby sister, Sunni. Sudsy and Wooly accompany their human, Ethan, to school, where he meets a new girl, Olivia. Olivia seems like the nicest of friends anyone could want, plus she likes reading, also something Ethan enjoys doing. His attempts to get Olivia’s attention are disrupted by a bunch of bullies, kids who take delight in tearing up other kids’ books, kicking their school bags around, stealing their lunch money, and generally being obnoxious. Can Sudsy and Wooly join together to help Ethan out? Maybe, but first they’ll have to get him to take his socks off…

What a charming story for young readers, and also one that parents could read aloud to young kids before bed time to help alleviate the perennial issue of bullying. I loved the colourful illustrations liberally included throughout to help young readers pay attention to the chain of events, as well as to relate to the characters, both human and … er… woollen. The characterisation is great, with the adorable SockKids coming up with inventive ideas to solve a problem that Ethan and Olivia encounter (rescuing a cat stuck in a tree!).

Something I think parents and teachers will appreciate are the various themes cleverly woven into the story: a sense of community, helping the less fortunate, working together for the good of others, friendship, love, loyalty, and standing up against what is wrong, or actions that hurt others. It takes courage to speak out and say “No” to bullying, but Ethan has the SockKids to help him. A very useful section at the end of the book is something I’d encourage parents, counsellors, and teachers to read as it discusses how to recognise and deal with bullying, giving guidelines for both adults and children. This is valuable information as bullying can happen on a number of levels and in different environments, not just at school.

I enjoyed the positive vibe the whole book exudes, with a joyful and enthusiastic approach to problems that children might feel they can’t solve on their own. And if you’ve ever wondered where the other half of your (perhaps several?) pairs of socks have disappeared to during the spin cycle, there is an answer here. I’d like to think that my socks that have gone missing over the years are off somewhere, fighting against bullying and helping youngsters to stand up for what is right!

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