Complicated Emotion

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“How are you?” she asked. It was a question that would’ve required some college-level math and about an hour of discussion to answer. I felt a hundred conflicting things, the great bulk of which canceled out to equal cold and tired and not particularly interested in talking. So I said, “I’m fine, just trying to dry off,” and flapped the front of my soggy sweater to demonstrate.

Hollow City: The Second Novel in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Giggle Book Award: Ladybugs and Bumblebees

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The Ladybug Girl books are wonderful. I highly recommend reading Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow to children of any gender because the story is about setting a goal, facing a challenge and not giving up – and climbing giant piles of snow with your dog. When I read Ladybug Girl to the children in my life, the boys were completely entranced by the story because they could relate to the adventure Ladybug Girl was having. Yes, it’s a girl in a snow suit modified to look like a bumblebee costume, but she’s climbing giant piles of snow with her dog.

As far as the children are concerned, Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow is about a kid facing kid-challenges; not about a girl doing girl-things – just something for the adults to think about.

When I found out about the Bumblebee books, I decided to take a look at both the origin of Bumblebee Boy in Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy; and his solo adventure in The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy.

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Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy

Of the two Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy was more popular with the children because it describes the resolution to a playground conflict that the kids understood personally.

Lulu (Ladybug Girl) and Sam (Bumblebee Boy) meet at a local park and want to play together but they can’t agree on a game, toy or section of the playground. Sam doesn’t want to do what Lulu wants to do and Lulu doesn’t want to do what Sam wants to do. This leaves both children frustrated and angry with each other. That’s when Lulu asks Sam to play Ladybug Girl and explains that ‘Ladybug Girl’ has superpowers.

Superpowers? Now Sam is interested. Sam happens to be wearing a yellow and black striped shirt, so they decide he shall be Bumblebee Boy and proceed to proceed to save the world from monsters. Quote:

Feeling rather proud for saving the playground and probably the whole town, Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy decide to have a parade on the bouncy dinosaurs. It is a very important celebration. A crowd gathers to watch the parade. people cheer and throw flowers at them.

That’s when Kiki and Marley want to join in but another conflict starts up as the girls start to argue over who gets to be Butterfly Girl vs Dragonfly Girl. At this point, as the reader, I’m beginning to think the book is getting a bit long – but the children were entirely engrossed in the story. In the end the conflicts are resolved and all four children develop a new game called BUG SQUAD!

Through comments made during the story and conversation afterword, I got the sense that the kids saw a very accurate portrayal of the conflicts they face in their day-to-day lives. In other words – this story is real.


The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy

Was also very popular with the children in my life, but it was less popular than Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy because the story describes a very familiar conflict between children, but the resolution is a little less comfortable.

In this story, Sam (Bumblebee Boy) wants to play Bumblebee Boy by himself but his little brother, Owen, wants to join in. Sam keeps telling Owen no and moves to another part of the house to play alone – until Owen finds him and tries again. Both sides of this conflict are very familiar to children and the resolution in the story consists of Sam deciding he’s done playing alone and goes in search of Owen.

I suspect the reason why this story was slightly less popular with the children in my life is because there was nothing Owen could do to make Same want to play with him – and nothing Sam could do to make Owen want to play alone. it ends well, but it doesn’t have the same magic conflict resolution suggestion as Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy. Quote:

“Do you want to play Bumblebee Boy with me? asks Sam. “I’m fighting aliens!”

“No, I don’t want to fight aliens,” says Owen. “Am playing bank robber monsters.”

“Bank robber monsters,” says Sam. “What game is that?”

“Is this!” says Owen.

“Oh,” says Sam. He thinks for a minute. “You know, Owen,” says Sam, “there are bank robber monsters in fighting aliens too.”

“Really?” says Owen.

“Yes,” says Sam. “So will you come fight with aliens with me?”

David Soman and Jacky Davis books covered in this post:

  • Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow
  • Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy
  • The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy

Scary Yet Not

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“Some people are a little bit scary.
But then, sometimes
(most times, maybe, I think)
sometimes they are not.”

The Little Bit Scary People, written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

Giggle Book Award: Conflict Is Fun

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The Giggle Book Award goes to Baron Von Baddie and the Ice Ray Incident!

Most children’s books focus on conflict from the perspective of reducing (or eliminating) the competition or personality war that is being waged between to people. When peace is established, relationships flourish. Sometimes this an accurate scenario, and sometimes it is not.

Question Boy meets Little Miss Know-It-All by Peter Catalanotto explores the opposite perspective by illustrating the way verbal combat can start a friendship. Baron Von Baddie takes it a step further, by examining a friendship and a lifestyle built entirely around conflict.

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The story is told from the perspective of Baron Von Baddie, who is a classic evil-scientist bad guy. His nemesis is Captain Kapow, who is a standard-issue flying superhero with super-strength and a cape. The Baron accidentally captures Captain Kapow and spends about three weeks living life free from conflict and interruption. At first he loves it….and then he gets bored. Really. Bored. And stops building the robots he loves so much. So, the Baron releases Captain Kapow, which reignites his ability to design and build new robots, and gets life back to normal. In the end, both the Baron and the Captain are clearly happy with their lives.

Around my house, this book is frequently requested because of the exciting capture, the impressive number of donuts the Baron eats (until he gets sick of them), the fact that he gets board and the equally impressive way that he escapes jail (every time). So, in many ways it’s a standard super hero story.

However, it also inspires the occasional discussion about boredom and the reasons why the Baron and the Captain keep doing what they do.

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“The Baron had a stunning revelation. He missed Captain Kapow! What was the point of creating chaos if no one was trying to stop you?”

Baron Von Baddie and the Ice Ray Incident by George McClements

Community Defined

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If diversity’s what it’s all about, then our neighborhood is all that and a bag of chips. But without a shared sense of purpose, diversity spells conflict and isolation, not opportunity. I figure that tract of land is what brought us together. None of us is about to give that up.

Before I stepped out of my house that cold morning three years ago, I might have told you “community” was some kind of Up with People fantasy—like-minded folks sharing a Norman Rockwell moment. Now I think community has little to do with like minds. It has to do with very differently minded people finding a way to get along because we all live in, are connected to, and share a sense of place.

Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food by BK Loren

Labels and Human Relations

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“ If you label a woman, you then relate to her as if her identity is defined only by these names. A label reduces a person to one description whether or not she is acting that way in the moment. This makes it difficult for you or anyone else to step out of the stereotype and try on new behaviors.

Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction by Marcia Reynolds

Familiarity Transforms Monsters

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“Ms. Kirby, it’s REALLY strange seeing you outside of school.”

“…By lunchtime, Bobby and Ms. Kirby were happy they had bumped into each other.”

My Teacher is a Monster, by Peter Brown

Fear Resistance and Risk

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“Take This job and Shove It”: How Targets and Witnesses Fight Back When Faced with Bullying

Seeing what happened to others communicated in no uncertain terms what would happen if witnesses became targets. There was no question that bullying environments were marked by profound fear within entire workgroups.”

Resistance is risky business for workers, and there is always the potential for unintended consequences: they want change but are punished; they report abuse but are stigmatized for reporting; they fight back and are called insubordinate. The inherent risk is why most resistance is covert. Resistance always holds risk for workers, but the risk is even more pronounced in environments where employees are systematically abused.

Adult Bullying-A Nasty Piece of Work: Translating a Decade of Research on Non-Sexual Harassment, Psychological Terror, Mobbing, and Emotional Abuse on the Job by Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik

Note: For more information about combating workplace bullying, visit the Workplace Bullying Institute, Beyond Bullying Association, the International Association on Workplace Bullying & Harassment (IAWBH) and the International Conference on Workplace Bullying.

 

Anti-Inspiring

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“Take This job and Shove It”: How Targets and Witnesses Fight Back When Faced with Bullying

When abuse persisted despite working harder, participants reported giving up. Working harder resulted in a brief respite but was inevitably followed by more demands and further demoralization…Thus, abuse engendered noncooperation rather than cooperation and consent.”

Adult Bullying-A Nasty Piece of Work: Translating a Decade of Research on Non-Sexual Harassment, Psychological Terror, Mobbing, and Emotional Abuse on the Job by Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik

Note: For more information about combating workplace bullying, visit the Workplace Bullying Institute, Beyond Bullying Association, the International Association on Workplace Bullying & Harassment (IAWBH) and the International Conference on Workplace Bullying.

 

Spotting Bad Management

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The following quote suggests that managers who bully subordinates also hire people with the intention of abusing them. It’s a little unnerving to think blatantly (consciously?) predatory behavior is behind some new-hire decisions.

This begs the question – how does a potential employee spot a predatory manager, or an abusive work environment, during the interview process? Are there techniques for identifying and avoiding the problem all together?

Serial Bullying: How Employee Abuse Starts, Ends, and Restarts with New Targets

The most common occurrence coinciding with the onset of abuse is getting a new boss or starting a new job: “A surprising number (19%) are bullied almost immediately on starting their new posts. The recent job change and a change in manager account for 82% of the offered events relating to bullying onset.””

Adult Bullying-A Nasty Piece of Work: Translating a Decade of Research on Non-Sexual Harassment, Psychological Terror, Mobbing, and Emotional Abuse on the Job by Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik

Note: For more information about combating workplace bullying, visit the Workplace Bullying Institute, Beyond Bullying Association, the International Association on Workplace Bullying & Harassment (IAWBH) and the International Conference on Workplace Bullying.