March 30, 2015

Book Review: Bully Bean

Bully Bean, written by father-son duo Thomas Weck and Peter Weck, is the heartwarming tale of a reformed bully. Once cruel and nasty, Bully Bean, the biggest bean in Beandom, changes his ways after he is trapped in a cave by rockfall and subsequently rescued by the "Beans" (bean-sized bears) he had oft tormented. Although Lima Bear had always been Bully Bean's favorite target, with Lima showing compassion and leading the rescue efforts, they eventually become friends. Not only is a friendship forged, but Bully Bean learns he can be recognized for being helpful and putting his size and strength to good use.

With positive messaging and beautiful illustrations, Bully Bean is suitable for initiating discussions around bullying with preschoolers and kindergartners. There are a few examples of shoving and pushing, but no extreme violence as to be frightening to young children. Most importantly, readers are taught to have compassion for those who are unkind; that even a bully may need help sometime and it is in our power to provide that help. 



While the story does not directly tell you how to deal with a bully, the "Extend the Learning" questions at the back of the book provide ample opportunity to discuss what should be done when someone is being bullied.  After my daughter's experience of being shoved and harassed in kindergarten for several months, I am always reiterating she use her words (tell the bully to stop bothering/shoving her) and go to a grown-up if someone is hurting her. We spoke about this again after reading Bully Bean. The story opened up a dialogue on what bullying is, why it is unacceptable, and what we can do when we are being bullied or we witness someone else being picked on.

It was interesting to hear my kids' take on Bully Bean. My oldest (5) instantly identified with Lima Bear and mentioned how she didn't like a certain classmate's words and behaviors. She felt that Bully Bean at the very least should have gotten time outs for being so nasty. My youngest (4) on the other hand, focused more on the images, but was quick to mention how mean Bully Bean was and that he shouldn't be doing those things to the other Beans. They would have liked to see justice, but seemed satisfied with the peaceful ending.

If you're looking for a way to broach the subject of bullying with little ones, Bully Bean is a good starting point. Instead of painting every bully with the same brush, it shows that a bully can change. It also teaches us to be kind to everyone as even bigger, tougher kids can't do everything on their own. While I would have liked more advice on how to deal with bullies, we were able to get to that in our post-reading discussion. In conclusion, I would recommend this book to parents, caregivers, and teachers with children and students from 4-6 years old to initiate conversations about bullying.

Where to Buy

Bully Bean is available on Amazon.comAmazon.ca, and Lima Bear Press as a hard cover book ($15.95) or e-book ($7.99).

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