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Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully [With CD (Audio)] [Audio]
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K-Gr 2-This fourth title in the series that began with The Kissing Hand (Tanglewood, 2007) drips with the same cloying sentimentality that characterized the others. Chester Raccoon, his younger brother, and a friend tell Mrs. Raccoon that they want to stay home from school because they are being bullied. When they describe the various nasty things the badger does, Mother Raccoon walks them to school, then leaves them there to face another day of torment. When they return and recite another litany of abuse-"Even Owl Teacher couldn't get him to behave"-she calls all the animals together and shares a didactic tale about a forest where the creatures treasure smooth yellow stones, but then one day happen upon a unique blue one that is sharp and pointy. Working together, they chip away at the sharp points until the blue stone is just like the yellow ones. The next day, the animals go outside for recess together, confront the bully, and then ask him to play. He "squeals in delight" at the offer. Simplistic solutions of this nature do little to assist youngsters who must deal with genuine bullies whose pattern of behavior is rarely altered by the offer of a game of catch. Gibson's illustrations, although occasionally leaning toward the precious, are bright and attractive, and the faces of the animals are quite expressive. The story will have an audience where the other books are popular, but better choices to discuss bullying abound, including Alexis O'Neill's The Recess Queen (Scholastic, 2002) and Trudy Ludwig's My Secret Bully (Tricycle, 2005).-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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