So excited to have this nice review in The Horn Book!
by Marcy Campbell
illus. by Corinna Luyken
When a “bad-something” is scrawled on a wall in one of the girls’ bathrooms, how does a school community handle it? In Campbell’s story, the principal speaks to a group of girls—“This kind of thing won’t be tolerated at our school”—but no one confesses. Curious about what exactly the “bad-something” is, four friends (including the book’s unnamed narrator) sneak into the closed bathroom for a peek. Shocked and upset, they tell others what they saw, and before long the entire school feels “horrible.” Students cast suspicious glances, and everyone acts “meaner.” But the perpetrator of the “bad-something” is never identified, and the specific hate-speech content is never revealed. Instead, Campbell focuses on how to process and move forward—together—a goal underscored by the book’s first-person-plural narration. An all-school assembly reminds students “that we were kind, even if we forgot sometimes,” and special pins boost school spirit. But it’s only after students paint a vibrant mural on the bathroom wall and write poems about their artwork and the world (“how there was more good than bad, more love than hate”) that true healing begins. Expressive and sketchlike, Luyken’s (My Heart, rev. 3/19) gouache, colored-pencil, and ink illustrations pulse with red as tempers flare and fear pervades the community, then burst with golden-yellow as students appreciate the “good-somethings” they have created. An appended note explains the book’s inspiration (two hate-speech incidents at the author’s children’s schools); website resources are also mentioned.