The Weird Series


Erin Frankel, Author

Paula Heaphy, Illustrator

Free Spirit Publishing, Fiction, 2012

Suitable for Ages:5 and up

Themes: Bullying, Fear, Courage, Self-Confidence,  Accountability

Opening/Synopsis:   “Hi.  My name is Luisa and I have a problem.  There is a girl in my class named Sam who thinks that everything I do is WEIRD!”   When Luisa raises her hand to answer a question, tells a joke to her friends, hugs her mom after school, or wears her favorite polka dot boots, Sam says she’s WEIRD.   Luisa tries to change what she does, but Sam continues to call her WEIRD.  Luisa doesn’t feel like herself anymore.  “Everyone misses  the way I used to be.  Everyone else, including me.”  After talking with her mother, Luisa makes some positive changes and throws Sam a curve ball.


Book 2

Opening/Synopsis: “Hi.  My name is Jayla and I’m scared.  See that girl?  That’s Sam.  She’s tough.   She picked on me a lot last year, but I never stood up for myself.  I didn’t DARE!  No one stood up for me, either.  They didn’t DARE.”   Jayla is relieved when Sam stops bullying her, but feels bad when she sees Luisa the next target.  Jayla remembers too well how it feels when no one dares to stand up for her.  Even though Jayla tries to mind her own business, Sam begins to DARE Jayla to say mean things to Luisa.   Jayla is scared and caves into Sam.  Jayla feels bad for Luisa.  “This isn’t the kind of person I want to be.”   Jayla musters the courage to make her own DARE and reclaims her power from Sam.


Book 3

Opening/Synopsis“What are you staring at?  I’m not the weird one.  My name is Sam and I’m TOUGH!  That Luisa.  She’s weird.  She dresses weird.  Acts weird.  She talks weird.  Someone has to tell her, so I do.”  Sam has had a lot of practice learning to be TOUGH.  Her brother bullies her and she’s had to learn to stand up to him.  Sam acts tough so people won’t mess with her.  She discovers that people aren’t following her rules anymore, so things are getting a bit tough for Sam.  Her teachers want to help her, but is she through with being TOUGH?

Why I like this series:  Erin Frankel has written a very powerful series on bullying.  The Weird Series shows kids bullying from three different points of view:  Luisa who is bullied in WEIRD!, Jayla who is the bystander in DARE!, and Sam who is the bully in TOUGH!  The books can stand-alone, or be used as a series.  I recommend that classrooms read the books as a series because the stories are interwoven.   Readers will identify with the name-calling, insults, threats, fear, and anger.  The characters are realistic and the language is simple, but edgy.  These books are going to be hits in the classroom.  Paula Heaphy’s black and white illustrations are highlighted with splashes of color, usually focusing on a specific character.  They are bold, emotive and capture the great body language of the characters.

Resources:  Each book has extensive pages of backmatter for kids, parents and teachers on the topic at hand (i.e. victim, bystander and bully).  There are summaries of lessons learned, discussion points, activities, suggestions for courage, confidence and kindness clubs, and role-playing.  Visit Erin Frankel at her website.  Teachers can download a free  Leader’s Guide  from Free Spirit Publishing.  The following is an interesting interview with both author and illustrator that I believe you will find interesting.

These books have been provided to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the work.

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.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

43 thoughts on “The Weird Series

  1. This looks like a much needed series. I read an online article the other day about cyber bullying. The comments from adults just made me wince. It resulted in comments like “it’s not real” to some name calling in the comments. We’ll check this series out. Thanks.


    • Stacy, this is an outstanding series. Even though the three main characters are girls, there are boys in the books. If adults make comments that made you wince, then what will they teach their children? Hope you check out the books.


  2. Oh, Patricia – these sound amazing – like the author really got into the mind of the children. And the video with Erin and Paula is wonderful. I’m so glad you put them all together as a triple bonus for us. I will check these out.


  3. Since we home educate our children, thankfully we don’t need to worry about bullying (unless you include sibling rivalry ;-})! But, I know this is a very real problem in schools. Looks like the topic is dealt with in a very positive way. I love the illustrations, too, and enjoyed hearing from the author and illustrator…thanks!


    • Jarm, it is such a big problem in the schools in my area. I know many schools are developing anti-bullying programs, which are needed. But, I really believe we need to start teaching kids at a young age in elementary schools. Yes, the author dealt with the books in a positive way. The books aren’t preachy, but rather edgy and told from the kids POV.


  4. Sounds like a great collection. I like Leonard Hill’s idea of bringing together three perspectives. I’ll add this collection to my book shelf.


  5. It’s funny how you should post this today, Pat. I just heard an awful story about a thwarted murder attempt at a school. 10 and 11 year olds. What is the world coming to?


    • How shocking. We really need to begin working with children at a very early age. And, there is a movement among many schools to develop anti-bullying programs. I think this series is going to be a “hit” in the classroom — at least I hope!


  6. These books look great! From all the different points of view. We have an anti-bullying movement at our school here, but I really don’t think the kids pay much attention to it. Kids can be so mean to each other sometimes. I’ll have to check out these books and maybe start taking them to school with me. Thanks for sharing!


    • I predict these books will be “hot” in the classroom. They are edgy and kids will so identify with the series and each point of view. Many great discussions. Check you library, mine carry them! We have programs here in our schools, but I think we need to start very early with kids. It’s cyber bullying that has me concerned.


  7. Fabulous idea to take the three bullying points of view and put them into this punchy yet positive series. Great find, Pat. Thanks for the interview with the author.


    • Genevieve, they are amazing. I reviewed them together because of the three alternating viewpoints. Oh, how I wish these books were in every school in America. As a former teacher, you know how important it is to start teaching children young. I reviewed an adult book some time ago for parents about how mean little girls can be.


  8. What an excellent-sounding series! I am so grateful that the author addressed the three different aspects of bullying, because they’re all present in our schools, in cyberspace, everywhere we look. Thank you so much for sharing these books with us.


    • You are welcome Beth. I was very taken by this series and had to review it that way to share the alternate viewpoints. Would love to see these books every classroom. And, the artwork is spot on — perfect for the story line. Thanks for promoting on FB.


  9. We LOVE this series. We had one 10 year-old girl who visited our shop with her grandfather and bought one… then came back again and got another and then came back one more time for the last one. Looking at bullying through different perspectives is really important and these books do a great job. The other book that really rocked me recently is “Wonder” which does a great job of showing the exact same scenes/situations through different people’s perspectives.


    • Craig, glad you love the series so much. And, I loved that story you shared about the girl and her grandfather! I feel you need to read all three to get the full impact. Yes, agree with you about “Wonder.” I reviewed that in Nov.-Dec. It is so important we talk about this at an early age. Thanks for sharing!


  10. I love that this series shows bullying from different points of view. I think that would be so helpful to kids in understanding it better. A model of how to cope as well as some insight into why someone might bully in the first place must be beneficial and this sounds like a great choice for homes and classrooms. Thanks for adding it to our list, Pat! 🙂


    • Thank you Susanna. I was happy to add the series to the Perfect Picture Book Friday list. The different points of view are a really helpful way for teachers and parents to use the books with kids. Great opportunity for discussions and role playing.


  11. This seems like a great series for the classroom. I like how each book is told from a different perspective of someone dealing with the same situation. The illustrations are fantastic! I love the sparse but bold use of color. Great review Pat!


  12. What a valuable series of books, Pat! I’m going to get all of them…and hopefully use them in school programs…maybe suggest that copies find their way into the school libraries. I love that each book presents the problem from a different perspective…victim, bully and bystander. Awesome interview clip also…fantastic post, Pat.:)


    • Vivian, I thought these might intrigue you. This is an outstanding series for kids, parents and teachers. Kids will be drawn to them again and again. And they are fantastic for the classroom. Unique approach to the subject.


  13. The covers alone convey such a strong message. I love the bright use of colors with the black and white. A bit of hope in a dreary world. This look excellent, and I love that there is more than one. So many important things we can learn. I might order some of these for our school library. I’ll have to see if we have them first. Thanks for sharing Pat. As usual, you find the most amazing stories. 🙂


  14. Pingback: Nobody!: A Story About Overcoming Bullying in Schools | Children's Books Heal

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