This story is now included in my collection of children’s stories – When Things Go Wonky.
DO BULLIES ALWAYS HAVE TO WIN?
A new girl in school is being bullied. Debbie really wants to help but she’s too afraid.
One day she’s forced to make a scary choice. Will she do the right thing?
The Tree Hugger is a must-read for anyone concerned about bullying and also a great coming of age story about friendship, love, and loss.
THE RIGHT TO BE DIFFERENT
Shalmalah is bright and individual. She doesn’t mind if people think she’s different and doesn’t care what bullies think.
Shalmalah accepts who she is and sees no need to change herself just to please two silly girls like Susan and Leoni.
They stop the other girls being friends with her as well and soon Shalmalah is on her own.
Debbie hates seeing another girl being bullied but she also thinks that if Shalmalah tried harder to ‘fit in’ Susan and Leonie would leave her alone.
But Shalmalah doesn’t care about fitting in. She’s proud to have a mind of her own.
She doesn’t want to be like everybody else – she wants to be herself.
Debbie decides to ignore what’s going on but when she arrives home one day to find Shalmalah’s mother is now friends with her own mother, she finds herself in a very difficult position.
She has to talk to Shalmalah now.
But how can she be friends with Shalmalah at home and not at school? She knows how two-faced that is.
Debbie can’t avoid the issue anymore and soon she is forced to make a choice.
In this story, when Debbie, the main character, sees a new girl, Shalmalah, being bullied she does nothing to help
Debbie doesn’t do anything about it because she’s afraid. She is scared of being bullied and left out herself.
Debbie’s experience is far from rare and ‘The Tree Hugger’ explores the subject in a way that allows kids to learn about bullying, yet still, enjoy a story without feeling they are being lectured.
This isn’t just a story about bullying it’s also a lively, contemporary story about friendship.
DISCUSSION AND GUIDANCE
Most parents are very concerned about this issue and ‘The Tree Hugger’ is a great way introduce the subject and enable them to stimulate discussion and provide guidance.
Sharing and discussing ‘The Tree Hugger’ can encourage a bullied child to open up to parents, or teachers and ask for the help they need.