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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
You don’t have to be a child to be bullied or even to be a bully. Adults are just as vulnerable as children. So, what do we do? What can we do when we see someone being hurt or bullied? These bullies are not only mean, they know how to manipulate their victim’s feelings, making them too scared to speak up, to defend themselves. But, perhaps that’s what a best friend is for. If you see someone being hurt or bullied, you really do need to speak up and get help. Otherwise, the person being bullied might retreat into a shell of self-condemnation and do themselves some harm. Zinny didn’t like it when she witnessed bullies abusing her friends and other children at school. But she had been told to mind her own business. When her best friend is bullied, she wants to help, but her friend makes her promise not to say anything, because she’s frightened of what else might happen to her. Talking to her older sister, Zinny learns the importance of speaking up to protect someone. There are times when you must speak up and times when you should mind your own business. Bullying is a time when you should speak up.
Olivia and Rinnah Maduabuchi are sisters and very talented young writers and illustrators. Their book, Should I Speak Up? A children’s illustrated book that empowers kids to stand for what is right, sends a powerful message to readers young and old about what to do when you see someone being abused or bullied. The story is cleverly presented, with a powerful plot that allows readers to follow along with the young protagonist Zinny's thoughts. Zinny is torn between doing what she thinks is right and minding her own business. It’s a difficult line to cross, but her older sister helps her decide what is the best course of action. Beautifully told and beautifully illustrated. I hope these young writers keep writing and sharing their ideas with the world. They have a poignant way of presenting some pretty complicated issues.