Reviewer Conny Withay:Operating her own business in office management since 1991, Conny is an avid reader, volunteers reading the Bible to the elderly, and makes handmade jewelry. A cum laude graduate with a degree in art living in the Pacific Northwest, she is married with two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and one granddaughter.
“Remember, being different means you are special and not like the rest. Be yourself and be proud!” author John Paul Padilla states in his second of the series children’s book, Johnny Big-Ears Meets His New Neighbor, Suzy, which deals with young children who are teased or bullied, especially those going to school for the first time.
This over-sized paperback book includes forty-four pages with the front cover drawing depicting a girl looking at a butterfly landing on a flower. The back cover has a paragraph about the book and a paragraph about the author with a photograph. There is no profanity or scary scenes except for some bullying. Illustrator Victor Ramon Mojica draws big, colorful and detailed illustrations corresponding to the storyline. At the end of the story, there is a question guide for teachers and parents along with a “what did you learn from this story” and art page for children to color, showing how they view themselves.
In this multiple award winning tome that is geared toward ages five to nine years old, young Johnny Big-Ears, called so by his family due to his large ears, has come home from school as per the story in the prior book and sees new neighbors are moving in next door. He cheerfully meets a girl named Tatis, but her shy, over-weight sister named Suzy peers down from her upstairs bedroom window, afraid that she will be teased again if she ventures outside. Even though her mother tries to cheer her up with a new dress for her first day of school, Suzy is frightened and cries.
The next day Johnny Big-Ears sees both Tatis and Suzy at school and realizes Suzy will be in his class, so he introduces her to Charlie Freckles. During recess while Johnny and Charlie play soccer, Suzy goes to the playground but two mean girls make fun of her for being chunky and fat. Johnny notices Suzy is upset from a far off and comes over and tells the two girls to stop bullying her or he will tell the teacher.
The two girls realize that what they did was wrong and apologize to Suzy, which makes her very happy that she asks to be called Suzy Chunkles. In the end Suzy understands she now has four new friends at school that like her and will play with her.
This story is about calling to attention the bully who teases someone and standing up for friendship. It reiterates that everyone is different in some way, but we all should get along and not make fun of someone else due to their size, shape, hair, ears or any facial or body feature that is not identical to us.
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