Childish Nonsense

Exploring Children's Literature

What I Did During My Summer “Vacation”

Who knew July could be this busy? Trying to keep my head above water while giving in to my natural laziness is a fine art. Hey, I might have to use that line again.

Joe and I spent a week driving to Iowa and back. Total of about 2500 miles. There was no specific reason other than sometimes you have to see your mom. At 84, Mom has her problems, but she gets around pretty well despite those problems. She lives in section 202 housing and regularly takes the paratransit bus to the senior center. I’m forever thankful my brother Tom is close enough to check on her, and his wife Renee is a perfect gem.  Aunt Mary, at 98 (that’s nine decades plus eight years), is a marvel. My other Iowa sister-in-law, Ellen, is also well.

The day after we got back, I drove to Charleston, West Virginia (about 700 miles round trip), to meet with the far-flung members of our SCBWI region. Fourteen of us spent four hours sharing our work and getting to know each other better.  What a wonderful day! I can’t say enough nice things about West Virginians.

On July 19, we opened the registration for our annual regional two-day conference (September 21 and 22: see our website, Our planning committee spent the day before my Iowa trip labeling and stamping post cards, designed by our illustrator coordinator, Susan Detwiler. Since the 19th, I’ve spent a lot of time answering questions and trying to organize.

Add to that a dental cleaning, problems with the car returning from Iowa, and getting ready for the Los Angeles conference next week and you have some idea what I’ve been up to. I do manage to sleep through some pretty spiffy movies on television in the evenings.

I just found out change is in the air for, for which I have been writing reviews for the last year, so I may be including more reviews in the blog. In other words, the reviews will belong to me now. Can’t stop reading and commenting.

This is a book I received from before I was told not to send any more reviews. It’s worth getting it right out there, since bullying is very topical.

BystanderBystander Power

Full of positive and useful information, this volume tackles the all-too-relevant subject of bullying and what kids can do about it. The approach is fun, the example are real, and the advice is valuable. Kids are given many mnemonics and other ways to remember information. For example, a hero is one who Helps Everyone and Respects Others. Those who want power should Play with and include everyone, Object to bullying, Walk away bravely, Escape, and Request help. The authors point out the many ways bullying harms everyone from the bully and the target to outsiders, assistants, and reinforcers. Near the end, they give a list of ten areas in which kids can take action, such as following the Golden Rule and getting involved. The illustrations also impart a lot of information. Kids are invited to spot bullying activities in a classroom scene. Written at a fourth grade reading level, this is part of the “Laugh and Learn” series, which features a wide range of topics about getting along in the world. Reading activities appear throughout the text, with games, quizzes, an concrete doable tasks for the reader to perform. The reader is given tips on how to stay safe in face of bullying. Even adults are given specific actions that they can do to lessen the bullying around them. Adults are given ten ways to join the upstander team.

References cover a vast range, and the authors include a table of contents and index to help. The publisher’s website,, has even more information for educators and parents.

TITLE: Bystander Power

AUTHORS: Phyllis Kaufman Goodstein and Elizabeth Verdick


PUBLISHER: Free Spirit Publisher

REVIEWER: Sue Poduska


ISBN: 978-1-57542-411-8

GENRE: Paperback, Bullying


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