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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
I Don't Want to Bully Anymore: A Young Person's Guide for the Bully and the Bullied by June Rousso, with illustrations by Maima Adiputri, is a children's book written in rhythmic lines from the point of view of a young child who is being bullied. Prior to the start of the story, there is a letter from the bully describing why they are hurtful to others, and from there the book goes into what is happening to the bullied child, how it makes them feel, and then addressing twenty-four character strengths of the bullied child. Ultimately, the bullied child addresses the bully by asking them to list their own character strengths. The book closes with the bullied children and their bully arm in arm, and a glossary of character strengths at the end.
Author June Rousso does a good job of delivering the message to a child that the issues of bullying are not reflective of them and are, in fact, reflective of the bully themselves. I understand that the objective is to highlight the VIA Character Strength principles and this will certainly be a great tool for many parents, as the strengths are empowering to children as a whole whether they are being bullied or not. There are parents who might find the resolution in the book to be overly simplistic, and it took me a moment to explain to my own daughter that because the bully wrote a letter and because the bullied child tried to empathize a bit, it still didn't make it right. Involving an adult is still the safest course of action (particularly as the verbal assaults often transition to physical violence). This book absolutely shines in the illustrations. The hand-drawn and watercolor depictions of multicultural children in varying circumstances are exceptional. Maima Adiputri's illustrations on their own warrant five stars, and elevate the book as a whole with its absolutely gorgeous, emotionally stirring, and fantastically relatable artwork.