Saturday, June 12, 2010

Book Review: Oliver Button Is a Sissy by Tomie de Paola

Tomie de Paola generally needs no introduction in the children's book world. However, this book seems to have dropped off the radar, and I think it's a brilliant book. It addresses the common children's themes of bullying and being yourself. I like that Oliver already seems pretty okay with who he is - a boy who likes to walk in the wood and jump rope and dress up, not play sports. And although his father does once encourage him to play sports, his primary reasoning is for the exercise, not anything macho which is nice, and once Oliver starts going to dance class (getting exercise), Papa is completely on board.

The bullies work in a group which is accurate in my experience. Oliver doesn't completely cave and break down under their pressure, but it's obvious that it does bother him. I was also glad not to see any useless and frustrating parental advice like "just ignore them" which doesn't work. It's also refreshing that he doesn't win the talent show, and actually because of that he doesn't even want to go to school the next day, but when he does, he finds the other kids were impressed with his performance even if the judges weren't. It's a totally satisfying, but not a rote or cliched ending. Tomie dePaola never talks down to kids, never expects them to act older or more confident than they are. He obviously remembers very well what it's like to actually be a child. This simple, compelling story would be great for any kid who's ever been bullied, or who has a hobby he or she fears their classmates will tease them about.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

1 comment:

Julie P. said...

I wasn't familiar with this book, but it sounds very important -- especially to kids who are being bullied!