I am so happy to be here today Rosanne. I am also thrilled to be talking a bit about my new book WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY. It’s a middle grade novel written in verse that includes a fish who grants wishes.
Eleven year old Jack misses his Dad who is MIA in Vietnam. It’s been months since he and his family had word of his whereabouts. The last thing Jack wants to do is spend summer with his grandparents. Mom believes it will be good for them all – Jack, his sister Katy, Mom, Gran and Pops – to be together while they wait for word about Dad. Keeping busy will keep them out of trouble and help them think of other things.
Jack expects the worst summer of his life. The first summer without. Without Dad, without friends, without his room and all the things that remind him of Dad. When Jack meets a girl named Jill – a girl with a brother who makes trouble for both of them – things they believe are turned upside down. Welcome to a summer of fishing, camping, bullies, and a fish who grants wishes. A fish that could be the answer to Jack’s problem. But when Jill makes wishes of her own, things don’t turn out the way they expected. Every wish has a consequence.
Will the fish grant Jack’s biggest wish? Will Jack be brave enough to ask?
Bullying is sadly, a common occurrence in schools and communities. I am hoping that the book and the issues it contains, will open up conversations about bullying and ways to stand up to bullies.
Here are three ways to stand up to bullying without using fists:
- Do things you enjoy with friends and be friendly to kids who are alone or look like they might need a buddy.
- Choose Kindness. When you see someone being picked on, imagine what it would feel like and do the right thing, not the easy thing. It feels easy to laugh and pretend it’s okay to make fun of someone, to agree with the bully. But when you flip it, and imagine yourself being picked on, the feeling is very different.
- Threat others the way you would like to be treated. How would you feel if someone laughed at your mistakes or said unkind things about you? Remember that feeling the next time you see someone being bullied.
Here is a poem from the story where Jack, Jill, and Katy encounter a bully named Brad.
Pretty early for Halloween, you losers
is the greeting we get, a greeting
none of us return.
What’s with your brother? Brad asks Jill.
He got the plague or something? He
won’t even come out of the house? Acts like a
sissy, just like the rest of you.
Brad spits, a slimy
green glob that looks like a slug,
landing on my sneaker. A spit dare, a
spit. One that makes
Jill and Katy jump up, ready to fight
all for one
one for all,
hands on hips.
Pig Latin, go! I say
and Jill and I launch into a
tirade of speed-talking nonsense
accompanied by Katy’s
Song That Never Ends, all of it
aimed directly at Brad who,
unable to speak our languages of choice,
walks off into the sunset,
shaking his head.
I rub the top of my sneaker in the grass
until all the slimy spit disappears.
Who was that? asks Katy.
Another bully, Jill says.
A friend of Cody’s, I say, and it looks like
we — the three of us — made a bully stop
without the help of a wish.
You don’t have to approach or confront a bully. Make a lot of noise, yell, scream, sing at the top of your lungs – like Jack, Jill, and Katy do in the story. People will notice and the bully will be caught, or will walk away.
Darlene Beck Jacobson is a former teacher and speech therapist who has loved writing since she was a girl. She is also a lover of history and can often be found mining dusty closets and drawers in search of skeletons from her past. She enjoys adding these bits of her ancestry to stories such as her award-winning middle grade historical novel WHEELS OF CHANGE (Creston 2014) and WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston 2020).
Darlene lives and writes her stories in New Jersey with her family and a house full of dust bunnies. She’s caught many fish, but has never asked one to grant her a wish. She’s a firm believer in wishes coming true, so she tries to be careful what she wishes for.
Her blog features recipes, activities, crafts, articles on nature, book reviews, and interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators. Follow her on twitter: @DBeckJacobson or contact her through email: firstname.lastname@example.org.