Bertha Speaks Out

Children - Grade K-3rd
102 Pages
Reviewed on 07/14/2009
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

Bertha speaks out contains several Bertha stories. The book begins by describing a car trip. No one paid any attention when Bertha reminded them that she gets car sick. Sure enough, Bertha up chucked all over the back seat and the outside of the car.

In Bertha’s next adventure she hid money in an oven. The pilot light caught the paper bags filled with money on fire. Life doesn’t get much easier when she goes to her uncle’s camp for overweight children. She manages to lose 5 pounds the first week despite her hidden stash of candy bars.

Too often adults expect respect but do not show respect. Adults forget to listen to kids. If Bertha’s parents had just listened to her they would not have had a nasty car. In the story where Bertha talks back to her teacher, I was disappointed that her mother did not listen to her before forming an opinion.

Bertha represents most girls and boys. They have a mind. They have an opinion. While they cannot make all of their own decisions as parents we need to listen to them. Not all children fit the “mold”, some of us are too short. too heavy, too slow, or too tall. I remember well the pain of kids making fun of me and sometimes adults too. My hope is Fran Lewis’ latest book Bertha Speaks Out brings light to the need to accept others and ourselves as God made us.

Fran Lewis

thank you a lot Fran the AUthor

Brian L Porter

An excellent review. Fran Lewis deserves respect and success in equal measure for her enterprising and refreshing attitude towards her work, and Bertha Speaks Out deserves to reach a wide audience. I wish her every success.

Brian L Porter
Award-Winning Author of 'A Study in Red - The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper'

V. S. Grenier

How would you react if it seemed that everyone--parents, siblings, schoolmates, teachers, and many others--picked on you, made fun of you, and generally treated you with disrespect when you were a child? Bertha, the overweight girl who was constantly being humiliated and embarrassed in Fran Lewis's My Name Is Bertha, returns to tell us more about her problems and how she learns to cope with them now that she has gone from elementary to middle school. The seven stories told by Bertha in this book talk about an accident at camp involving a lot of money, playing dodgeball (or "kill") in gym class, a trip to her uncle's weight loss camp where overweight kids can try to lose weight, another adventure at camp involving frogs and skunks, having a test misgraded at 98% when her mother is expecting a perfect score, being accused of cheating on a paper that she writes for a contest, and finally her grandmother's diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

While reading this book, I will admit that sometimes I was a little frustrated with Bertha's behavior, but it is important to consider what Bertha is going through. For example, on one occasion, Bertha becomes very upset, locking herself in her room, stomping on the floor, and throwing things around. Often, she is very blunt. However, Fran says that Bertha doesn't intend to be mean or rude. But as an educator Fran knows that kids do blurt out their true feelings and do not always express themselves in the right way. Again, I understand that this book is supposed to be based upon real events. I think that most of us realize that there are situations in life where people are not fair, and children's words may be the result of frustration and always being a scapegoat. When I first read the book, I noticed that while it is not written as a novel with a plot but as a series of stories, it might have been a little easier to follow by having the incidents arranged in some kind of chronological order. However, Fran told me that the arrangement of the stories was not her doing but the publisher's.

Having said that, I still find myself drawn to Bertha and her troubles because I know, based on my memories of being a child, that both kids and adults can be mean and disrespectful to children with no good reason. Bertha herself is certainly not perfect, but she understands her own weaknesses and faults and tries to learn from them. Concerning her weight problem she says, "But I really can't blame anyone but myself. I have to believe in myself." And after the event that has led to the temper tantrum, she writes, "I probably could have told the teacher how I felt about her in a better way." All of us have undoubtedly made mistakes, so we just have to learn how to overcome them and to do better the next time. Both children and adults can come to understand the kinds of pressures that Bertha is facing and also to appreciate the good advice that she offers on how to solve or avoid problems based on her experiences. Author Fran Lewis is a longtime educator in New York Public Schools and writes as one who knows whereof she speaks. And the description of Bertha's grandmother with dementia is especially poignant and sympathetic.

Martha A. Cheves

Bertha Speaks Out - Fran Lewis, Author
In Fran Lewis' first book My Name is Bertha you meet Bertha who is an overweight young lady that is teased, laughed at and hurt by both her peers and some of the adults in her life.
In Bertha Speaks Out, she learns to take up for herself by speaking out and expressing her feelings. When a child is not "perfect" other children as well as adults can be cruel. As adults we sometimes ignore the hurt that our own children may inflict upon a child that is not "perfect". If a child has a handicap, kids may mock them. If they have a speech problem, they may mimic them. If they are overweight, they may call them names and exclude them. All of these actions damage the child that is not "perfect" as well as the child doing the hurting. We as parents need to teach them that this is wrong and how their actions hurt.
Bertha Speaks Out is a very enjoyable book to read. Bertha finds herself in positions that will make you laugh and cry. You will feel her pain but also feel her pride when she stands up for what is right. It's a must read for children as well as adults.
Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

Fran Lewis

For any child that has every had problems with their weight or with bullies or getting picked on in school read Bertha Speaks Out and get the first hand lowdown from Bertha herself on how to deal with these issues. For any child whose mother or father pressures them to get perfect scores on every test they take learn how Bertha finally speaks out and expresses how this makes her feel. She is smart, sassy and adorable. She is funny and a total klutz. But, she goes to weight loss boot camp with her snacks safely tucked away and she brings the whole family together when her grandmother gets Alzheimer's Disease. read this and you will fall in love with Bertha.