Trudy Ludwig, author
Mikela Prevost, illustrator
Random House, 2008
Suitable for: Ages 7-9
Themes: Gossip, Lies, Rumors, Relational Aggression, Trust
Opening/Brief Synopsis: “I know a girl who has a really big mouth. Her name is Bailey. Big Mouth Bailey. She doesn’t know I’ve called her that because I’ve never said it out loud. But that’s what I think.” Maya and Bailey are friends until they attend a sleepover at Keisha’s house and Bailey makes a hurtful and embarrassing comment to Keisha. Over weeks Maya observes Bailey spreading rumors, interfering and causing trouble for many other children. Things get out of hand when Bailey spreads a false rumor that Maya’s parents are getting a divorce. Maya is hurt and talks with her school counselor. As Maya learns first hand, spreading rumors, saying hurtful things and sharing someone’s private information only leads to trouble.
Why I like this book: Trudy Ludwig has written an important book that older elementary kids will easily relate to. Mikela Prevost’s colorful illustrations show a lot of emotion, expression and enhance the story. Gossiping and spreading rumors is a big problem among kids. Although the ending is optimistic, Maya isn’t sure she will be able to trust Bailey. I was pleased that Ludwig shows that Bailey’s actions has consequences, and she has to learn how to respect others. I especially like her use of words “trouble talk” and “‘friendship-tug-of-war.” Kids get stuck in the middle with bullying or relational aggression. I highly recommend this book to teachers, school counselors and parents.
Resources: There is a wonderful Forward in the beginning of the book from a psychologist. And, there is an Author’s Note, Questions for Discussion and more resources at the end. There is plenty of information for a classroom discussion. Visit Trudy Ludwig at her website. She has recently written a Wonder Lessons Guide for Random House about bullying. A great tool for teachers and parents to use during National Bullying Prevention Month. You may also want to check out the National Bullying Prevention Center.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.