Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kid Konnection: So Not Okay

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a middle grade book that deals with a very serious issue -- bullying.

Summary: There is no such thing as neutral.

According to the Ambassadors 4 Kids Club, one out of every four students is bullied—and 85% of these situations never receive intervention. Parents, students, and teachers alike have amped up the discussion of how to solve the bullying problem for a networked generation of kids.

Written by bestselling author, Nancy Rue, each book in the Mean Girl Makeover trilogy focuses on a different character’s point of view: the bully, the victim, and the bystander. Each girl has a different personality so that every reader can find a character she relates to. The books, based on Scripture, show solid biblical solutions to the bullying problem set in a story for kids.

So Not Okay tells the story of Tori Taylor, a quiet sixth grader at Gold Country Middle School in Grass Valley, California. Tori knows to stay out of the way of Kylie, the queen bee of GCMS. When an awkward new student named Ginger becomes Kylie's new target, Tori whispers a prayer of thanks that it’s not her. But as Kylie’s bullying of Ginger continues to build, Tori feels guilty and tries to be kind to Ginger. Pretty soon, the bullying line of fire directed toward Ginger starts deflecting onto Tori, who must decide if she and her friends can befriend Ginger and withstand Kylie’s taunts, or do nothing and resume their status quo. Tori’s decision dramatically changes her trajectory for the rest of the school year. -- Thomas Nelson

I rarely read Christian fiction, or even middle grade fiction for that matter, but the new novel SO NOT OKAY by Nancy Rue appealed to me. When Booking Daughter was younger, she loved Ms. Rue's books about girls and the various problems they faced. Not only could she relate to these books, but she appreciated the powerful messages in the stories.

SO NOT OKAY is about Tori, a nice sixth grade girl who is content with group of friends and knows to stay away from Kylie, the "queen bee" of their middle school. However, when the new girl Ginger moves into their school, Kylie decides that Ginger will be her target. On one hand, Tori is grateful that she's not the one being harassed; but on the other hand, she feels bad for Ginger and tries to be kind to her. It probably won't surprise you that Kylie decides to pick on Ginger and her group of friends too. While Tori knows in her heart that she's doing the right thing, she fears that her friends won't be quite as willing to stand up for Ginger. Tori has to decide whether she has what it takes to put up with Kylie and her friends' taunts or ignore Ginger and fly below Kylie's radar. Tori quickly realizes that with either decision comes a fair share of heartache and pain!

SO NOT OKAY is the first in the Mean Girl Makeover trilogy, and I think it contains some very important messages. Each book in this series focuses on a different character -- the bully, the victim and the bystander -- and shows their view point on the situation. Needless to say, these three girls have very different opinions and reactions to what happens in the story. I think the concept of this trilogy is fantastic because it allows all types of girls to relate to the characters in the story.

As a parent, I think SO NOT OKAY is a great book for young girls. Bullying and mean girls are rampant in elementary and middle school, and often times, girls have no idea how to handle the situation. They don't want to tattle and draw even more attention to the situation; however, they don't know how to talk to (or not talk to) the girls that are tormenting them or their friends. SO NOT OKAY not only shows that these girls are not alone in being bullied, but it also offers some ideas for how to deal with these mean girls.

I also liked that SO NOT OKAY dealt with some very serious issues while also being a fun story with fun characters. There was a lot of humor in the story and Tori is just a wonderful character who learns to deal with bullying as a bystander. While the ideas in this book are based on scripture, the story isn't heavy-handed or preachy. In addition, this novel teaches tweens important lessons about self-worth and confidence.

SO NOT OKAY would make a great book for schools and book clubs, especially mother/daughter ones. There is a great deal to to learn from Tori about being bullied and also standing up and doing the right thing. Some other topics that you might want to discuss include peer pressure, friendship, loyalty, parent/child relationships, teacher/student relationships, and faith.

SO NOT OKAY is a great start to, what I hope, is an important series of books about bullying.

Thanks to the author for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Stacie said...

I'm going to have to check out Nancy Rue's books for our daughter. Thanks for sharing!

bermudaonion said...

Boy does that sound good! It's so hard for kids to know what to do in a situation like that because tattling usually doesn't work. said...

Plus this is such an important subject! Lovely review!

Beth F said...

What a great idea to show all viewpoints. I've never understood why some girls (and women) can be so mean.

Nancy Rue said...

I'm thrilled with your review, Booking Mama. Thank you SO much. Nancy Rue