Making an impact. It’s something we all strive towards, especially when talking about bullying. Research states that 1 in 5 children experience bullying and making an impact on this statistic is something towards which teachers, parents, and leaders have been working for many years. Along with equipping students with tools to deal with conflict and emotion from a young age so that they do not become bullies, educators have striven to also provide tools to those adjacent to the bullying--the bystanders.
While studies show that 20% of children are bullied, it also reveals that nearly 71% of children witness bullying. The encouraging news is that 57% of the time, that bullying ends within 10 seconds of peer intervention. This means that a large population exists which can be leveraged as a force for good.
But what happens when standing up to bullying (often referred to as being an upstander) goes wrong? Like fighting fire with fire, things can quickly go from bad to worse. While standing up to bullies is vital, doing so through the use of violence, mocking, or returning the bullying will only cause more trouble. So, as we teach children to be upstanders, it is just as important to teach them how to be upstanders.
In the picture book A. Blob on a Bus, by L.A. Kefalos, we once again meet A. Blob, the purple bully introduced in the 3-book series inaugural book, This is A. Blob. In this new tale, A. Blob is back to its bullying ways and, for a while, it seems like the children will never be able to ride the school bus in peace. That is, until one brave girl decides to take a stand. A. Blob on a Bus introduces the idea of being an upstander to young readers and opens the door for conversations on what to do when they see bullying occur. The companion craft below is designed to help leaders begin discussions about why it is important to stand up to bullying along with how to do this in a positive way.
The kids will love making their own "A. Blobs" and you will love the learning happening along the way!
MAKING AN IMPACT
A companion craft for A. Blob on a Bus, by L.A. Kefalos
Step 1: Read A. Blob on Bus out loud
Step 2: Open a discussion about the story. How did A. Blob’s presence change the environment of the bus? If no one liked the way A. Blob was behaving, why did it take so long for anyone to stand up to it? What are some helpful ways to stand up to others? What are some not-so-helpful ways?
Step 3: Craft time! As you make the craft, continue the discussion on being an upstander.
Begin mixing your ingredients. As you mix, talk about some of the “ingredients” that create a bully. Why do some people bully others? Talk about what it means to have empathy and why it’s important to put ourselves in the shoes of others. Even though some people bully others because they have been bullied or hurt themselves, does that make their behavior ok?
The school bus before and after A. Blob's arrival. Which bus would you rather be on?
-Images from A. Blob on a Bus, by L.A. Kefalos, illustrated by Jeffrey Burns
Using examples from the book, remind children that the way we treat one another has an impact on them and the situation. We have the power to change and so it is important to stand up against bullying, even when we aren’t the ones being bullied. We must be upstanders, not bystanders!
However, there are helpful ways to be upstanders, and not-so-helpful ways. When we react to bullying with more bullying, the problem only becomes worse. Show the students how when we hit the mixture, it becomes hard and resistant. However, when we treat it gently, it is soft and pliable. Discuss positive ways to stand up against bullying.
If you use this craft in your classroom or home, we’d love to see! Tag us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and use the hashtag #ABlobCraft.
Welcome to day 5 of the A. Blob on a Tour blog tour, celebrating the release of A. Blob on a Bus, by L.A. Kefalos! Today the bus stops at the Library Lady's Kid Lit blog! Along with reviewing L.A.'s newest picture book, Jane--AKA The Library Lady--interviewed L.A. to give us the inside scoop on everything from L.A.'s favorite genre to read to what inspired her to write A. Blob on A Bus.
In addition to keeping up her blog, which reviews books for all ages, Jane is also a children's librarian! Thank you to Jane for joining the tour!
Check out her interview with L.A. over on Library Lady Kid Lit!
Thank you for joining us on the A. Blob on a Tour blog tour! We hope you've had fun, learned more about A. Blob on a Bus and the important message it has to share, and have added some new bloggers to your blog roll. We would love to hear YOUR thoughts on A. Blob on a Bus and to see how you use it to combat bullying and raise up UPSTANDERS! Visit Amazon to pick up your own copy and be sure to tag us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with your thoughts.
Welcome to day 2 of the A. Blob on a Tour blog tour, celebrating the release of A. Blob on a Bus, by L.A. Kefalos! Today the bus stops at the Mom Read It blog! In addition to being a mom and blogger, Rosemary is also a children's librarian who shares her thoughts on a wide range of kid lit, covering everything from YA to picture books.
Rosemary also loves comics and writes about comic books, pop culture, and books for adults on her second blog On Wednesdays, We Wear Capes. Keep up with her on her blogs or over on Twitter at @roesolo.
A big THANK YOU to Rosemary for joining the tour and helping us to share the message of A. Blob on a Bus! To read Rosemary's blog tour blog, head over to Mom Read It!
Don't miss the bus! The A. Blob on a Bus Blog Tour continues Friday on the Library Lady's Kid Lit Blog! Head over there to check it out, or check in here where we will be posting links to all the stops along the tour!
My Book – A. Blob on a Bus
by L.A. Kefalos
They were adorable. They were die cast metal, shaped as yellow school buses, with tiny rubber tires and “New York City Schools” inscribed in black bold letters across the side. When I handed the souvenir to my niece, my sister wondered out loud, “Why a bus?” OK, so there have only been two times I have been asked that question, and, to answer my sister--just in case she is reading this--because EVERYONE gets a Statue of Liberty or an I Heart NY keychain. Plus, these buses were so darn cute. I really should have bought a key chain for myself. I think I will go back and get one.
Not only is New York City my favorite city in the world, and that shade of yellow my favorite color (well, for coffee mugs and number two pencils) but my second book, A. Blob on a Bus, just happens to take place in a bus. You might be thinking, “Why a bus?” to yourself. Let’s just say you are. Well, there is a reason behind it.
And as sure as the day is long, it happened: first the brake lights appeared, followed by the slow, painstaking lowering of the blinking, red eight-sided sign emblazoned with white letters: “TOO BAD,” ordering me to stop and wait for a child to appear from the house and board the bus.
As, I settled into my seat, drinking my morning coffee, to wait for the emergence of Johnny-Come- Lately, I noticed HER, peering out the back window of the bus. She was looking directly at me. She appeared to be around ten or eleven years old. She was expressionless--no smile, no frown, just an empty stare. Maybe the expression was one of angst because it was the first day of school and, perhaps she had butterflies in her stomach. You know those pesky insects that show up to remind you that your future is uncertain. For some reason, I still get them at the mere mention of the words, “first day of school.”
However, the little girl’s clothing--in contrast to her expression--was rather imaginative. She had a bright, royal blue blouse on underneath a cream-colored vest that appeared to have some shiny metallic strips woven into the fabric. Thin blue and silver streamers dangled against her long brown hair. I thought the glitzy outfit was her attempt to be accepted by the rest of the herd. But then I noticed that she was standing all alone in the back while the rest of the pack were seated, paired up according to type inside the giant yellow ark. The outfit obviously wasn’t an attempt to blend in as the others were moderately dressed. She clearly stood out from the rest. “Why is she staring at me?” I thought, as I averted her gaze and looked down, pretending to have difficulty placing my coffee cup back in the holder. I admired my nails as I placed the coffee in the cupholder. I had just had them painted a sapphire blue with gel nail polish. The gel caused the nails to shine much more than the regular polish I normally wore. I marveled at the color of blue, realizing that it matched the stapler that I had sitting on my desk back at the office. The office that I was going to be late arriving to because I was still waiting on a child to board the bus.
When I looked up to see if there was any sign of life from the house, I saw that she was still staring out of the back window at me. A bevy of questions flooded my mind: Why is she still looking at me? Why is she standing? Isn’t that dangerous? Doesn’t this bus have seat belts? Why aren’t all school buses required to have seat belts? Why isn’t Noah paying attention to his passengers? Isn’t he concerned with their safety? Why isn’t she smiling? Is she being bullied? I had already written my first picture book, This is A. Blob, about a bully who wreaks havoc on a playground tormenting other kids. In my research for the book, I had read that a school bus was a hot spot for bullying. Besides the fact that the bully pretty much had a captive audience, there is very little adult supervision. Bullies tend to target their victims any place where adult supervision is low. Yes, there was the school bus driver, Noah, but there can be as many 70 kids on one bus for him to supervise and his focus obviously is on safe driving.
I felt a little helpless sitting there. I really couldn’t surmise anything from the situation. I knew it was up to the adults in the child’s life to notice the signs of bullying. The mood changes, the minor health complaints, the changes in their grades and sleeping habits. All I could do was sit and wonder about the one who wandered away from the herd and was standing there gazing intently at me.
I don’t know why I did it. It may have been the fact that she was standing alone, looking like an outcast, in need of provision, or maybe it was the blue streamer gesturing me to show kinship. Whatever the case, I decided to flash my freshly painted nails at her, one hand, five fingers, palm-side away from her, in some tribal “I feelyasister” greeting. I don’t know what I expected to happen. Maybe she would give me a sign of the duress she was in. Most likely, I was being selfish and was hoping it would cause her to look away and end the awkwardness I was feeling being under the microscope. But she did something totally unexpected: instead of looking away, she returned the greeting in “I’ll see you and raise you” fashion and flashed back five nails decked out in blue and white zig-zags matching her vest and streamers. Clearly her nails were far more stunning than mine. The gesture caused me to spit out my coffee and laugh out loud. Her expression-less face broke out in a huge smile as well.
In the meantime, I hadn’t noticed the brake lights on the bus were gone, as well as the flashing red stop sign. The bus began to move and make its way toward the unknown future. The girl with the streamers had sat back down in her seat when the bus continued its journey. I followed behind it for a way before I had to make a left-hand turn. When I put on my signal to turn--to my astonishment--the little girl’s head popped her head up over the backseat, smiled, and flashed me the five-fingered backward hand wave, good-bye. I returned the smile and the wave, and she sat back down in her seat.
I drove to the gym at a leisurely pace. I was no longer hurried or concerned about getting my full work out in. Instead, I was thrilled that I had the idea for the next book in the A. Blob series. My only worry –would having a tiny pink butterfly flying out the back window of the bus at the end of the story be too much?
Don't miss the bus! The A. Blob on a Bus Blog Tour continues tomorrow over at the Mom Read It blog! Head over there to check it out, or check in here where we will be posting links to all the stops along the tour!
About Laughing Leopard Press
Hello! We are Laughing Leopard Press, an independent book publisher from Akron, Ohio. At Laughing Leopard Press, we’re interested in publishing works that contribute to our understanding of this wonderful world. Through this blog, we hope to add to that understanding with commentary on life, literature, and a few things in between. We hope you enjoy the blog and take some time to talk with us in the comments or on our social media sites. Happy reading!
This is A. Blob by L. A Kefalos. $14.95
$1.00 is donated to charity for each book sold on this site--half to St. Jude's and the other half to PetFix Northeast Ohio.