Thursday, February 11, 2010

It Only Takes ONE

From recent headlines comes a story of a group of teenage boys setting another boy on fire, over the price of a $40 video game.

Bullies have been around since the time of Cain and Abel. No tolerance rules fail to take in to account both sides of the story. Preventative action such as talking to children about what makes someone a bully and directing them with positive responses can be much more effective. Teaching our children to act rather than to react is tackled on the PBS Kids web site .

The picture book, One, by Kathryn Otoshi can also provide a valuable lesson for recognizing and celebrating each other, even the bullies. One is a unique blend of colors, numbers and counting that tell a story about standing up and being counted. It opens the discussion and offers support for parents, grandparents and teachers to talk to children about how to stand up to a bully.

Kathryn Otoshi is a children’s book author and illustrator. Her work with such filmmakers as Robert Zemeckis’s (Monster House and Polar Express) and as Graphic Design and Multimedia Art Director for George Lucas (Star Wars), Otoshi brings a brilliant visual perspective to story telling. Her book, One, is an anti-bullying story introducing colors, numbers and counting to young children while skillfully playing upon the larger themes of tolerance, acceptance, and the power of one voice.

Blue’s colorful friends find it difficult to tell Red to stop being a bully. The story captures the dilemma not only of Blue, but of his friends, as well. The simple illustrations define the emotions of the colorful friends and feeling challenged in standing up to the very hot Red.

Along comes One who decides to stand up and say “No” with bold strokes and squared corners. One acts and inspires the other colors to say “Me, Two. Me, Three.” and soon there are Five. Blue finds with the support of his friends he can count, too.

A quiet moment of reading to a child, can open up a world of confidence to stand with a friend, rather than letting them stand alone. To help them understand that to make all the colors count, sometimes it takes just One.

Kathryn Otoshi has presented us with the perfect book for Valentine’s Day. A message that is timeless and filled with the spirit of love and tolerance. And it would certainly go well with a heart-shaped box of chocolates. That’s what a wise grandma would do.

Read more at Character Counts and Shelftalker: A Children's Booksellers Blog. One by Kathryn Otoshi published by KO Kids Books, available in bookstores nationwide.

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