There are two big problems that are the center of our national attention in the US: obesity and bullying. Often times, it is the problem of obesity, particularly childhood obesity, that can lead to bullying. This book offers a unique perspective on both of these issues. The story is by seven year old LaNiyah Bailey.
The story follows a little girl named Jessica, or “Jess” for short. She’s at that age when she’s learning that people come in different shapes and sizes with help from her loving family. However, it’s a hard lesson to come to terms with for Jess when she’s facing a lot of hurtful words thrown at her at school by students and teachers. Even though she loves fruits and vegetables, eats salads all of the time, and avoids fatty foods, Jess struggles with her weight. She resorts to hiding in the bathroom to get away from the mean kids and teachers at her school who accuse her of eating too much. Her parents tell her to value what’s on the inside, and it helps a little, but the bullying she faces still hurts.
The story then goes into Jess’s trips to the doctor’s office to figure out why she has put on so much weight despite eating a healthy diet. She learns that she has a problem with her colon and starts taking medicine to make it better. Learning about these health problems empowered her to go to school and face the kids once more. It even gave them something to admire about her and even ask about. Her trip to the “x-ray camera machine” was something that earned the awe of the playground.
It was an interesting story from the perspective of a child facing very real health problems that aren’t all that uncommon. It’s so unique for its plain honesty, genuineness, and discovery, that I recommend the most sensitive readers (and especially mothers of children facing similar problems) to keep some tissues handy.
This is the perfect kind of book to read to a young one regardless of whether or not they are being bullied because children need to understand the consequences of their words. Kids who are taught to look beyond the superficial will grow up to be more stable and well-adjusted. This book will require some discussion for younger readers so that they can connect the dots and understand what this story is saying about bullying and judging people just based on how they look.
The illustrations are absolutely darling and add so much emotional value to the story. The fact that it’s written from the perspective of a child will allow young readers to connect to the story.