Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully Book Poster Image
Imaginative girl tackles bully in upbeat playground story.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully  provides the perfect venue for discussing bullying on the playground, especially the kind that happens as part of a game or in ordinary playground activity. A game that scares or intimidates kids isn't much fun; games wherein no one feels scared make everyone happier. Sometimes, though, things seem scary when they really aren't: The little girl learns that being hit by the dodgeball really doesn't hurt and isn't as scary as she thought. 

 

Positive Messages

Freckleface Strawberry is able to figure out a way to deal with the larger boy who's bullying her and others in a dodgeball game by beating him at his own game. He realizes how it feels to be scared, and discovers he has more fun playing with his new friend than intimidating her. Games that don't scare anyone can be more fun. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Freckleface Strawberry loves going early to school just so she can play outside with the other kids. When she's forced to play a game that scares her, she faces her fear and comes up with a creative solution for dealing with a bully. In fact, they both learn a lesson and become friends.

 

Violence & Scariness

The playground bully really enjoys smacking the other kids with the ball when playing dodgeball. Kids will see from the illustrations that It scares many of them.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents should know Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully is the second title in Julianne Moore's picture book series about a feisty little girl named Freckleface Strawberry. This time she's dealing with a playground bully, a scary game, and her own fears, not her freckles. Her story offers a great opportunity to talk about the bullying that can happen as part of a game, as well as what makes a game fun or not.  

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What's the story?

FRECKLEFACE STRAWBERRY AND THE DODGEBALL BULLY deals with a game that many kids dread playing: dodgeball. Some kids, especially if they're the same size and have the same ability, love the game. But, for players of different sizes with different skills, it can be frightening. And it can give a borderline bully the perfect chance to dominate the group. That's what happens here. The bully's a very large child with the not-so-flattering name of Windy Pants Patrick. His much smaller classmate, Freckleface Strawberry, generally loves to play, but she dreads rainy days when she has to play dodgeball, especially when he has the ball. It looks, and sounds, like it really hurts when he smacks the other kids with the ball. She tries to hide out, but eventually comes up with a plan of her own that solves her problem and teaches Windy Pants an important lesson. It turns out that getting hit with the ball doesn't really hurt, and Windy Pants Patrick isn't such a bad guy after all.

 

Is it any good?

Julianne Moore's storytelling is inspiring and hilarious (especially when read aloud), and her character Freckleface Strawberry is as cute and indomitable as ever. The story of Freckleface Strawberry and Windy Pants Patrick will sound very familiar to most people, kids and adults alike, especially if they've ever played dodgeball. 

The expressive brush and digital illustrations of LeUyen Pham again are the perfect complement to Moore's playful narrative that teaches a gentle lesson. Those who liked the first Freckleface book are sure to love this second adventure, and will look forward to hearing more of this brave little character. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the very expressive illustrations in this book. What does the first illustration of the group dodgeball game show you about the different kids and their feelings about the game? Which ones are smiling, which ones are not? Why do you think they feel differently about the game? 

  • Have you read any of the other Freckleface Strawberry books? How do you think this one compares with the others?

  • Have you ever encountered someone like Windy Pants Patrick during a game on the playground? Was he fun to play with? What did you do? What do you think works best in this situation?

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