The intersection of bullying and picture books makes me cringe. The issue is extremely troubling; but most of the picture book “solutions” are worse: possessing all the street cred of a wannabe suburban gangster.
In this dreamworld, one act of kindness can reform a bully and saying, “STOP IT” works. Meanwhile, back on reality ranch, bullies target the isolated and exploit them because no one stands up for them.
Not in Leave Me Alone.
Despite the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness that dominates our unnamed protagonist, friends rally to his side and turn the bully back with a realistic solution: strength in numbers.
Unfortunately Kes Gray and Lee Wildish’s work is not completely uncontaminated by the picture book fantasy of easy solutions. (The bully never returns.) But Leave Me Alone reduces the disconnect between picture books and the playground by showing how to actually stop a bully; and I’m all for that.