Happy Jack Sad Jack

A Bullying Story

Children - Social Issues
36 Pages
Reviewed on 09/01/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Happy Jack Sad Jack: A Bullying Story is a children's picture book by Mark M. Bello. Jack is a happy interracial child who is due to start kindergarten. On the very first day of school, he excitedly joins his new classmates on a new adventure. While playing during recess, Jack is pushed to the ground by one of his classmates, causing him to hurt his knee. As the days go by, the boy continues to tease Jack, making him sad and his parents concerned. They make an appointment with Principal Lou, determined to find the reason for Jack's unhappiness. When the truth comes out, Principal Lou makes it clear to all the students that bullying will not be tolerated, and no matter the religion or race, everyone will be treated equally, as every child deserves to be happy.

Happy Jack Sad Jack is a moving story about a child facing and knowing discrimination for the first time in his life. Mark M. Bello's thoughtfully crafted tale gives a powerful message about embracing diversity and teaches kids to be more compassionate, understanding, and empathic towards one another. Let's face it, we are all in this world together. The rhyming verses are engaging, making the book more fun to read. Apart from Bello's catchy prose, the beautiful illustrations by Melinda Falgoust add color to the pages and bring the characters to life. This is an important story that feels all the more relevant in today's world, and it needs to be told. Highly recommended.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Bullying is wrong. We’re all different and we all have to accept everyone else’s differences as much as they have to accept ours. Jack is a happy little boy, at least until he starts kindergarten. Jack’s skin is darker than the other children at school because he has one parent who is white and the other one is black. He doesn’t mind being different from the others, but there’s one boy on the playground who singles him out and aggressively bullies him. Jack is no longer a happy boy. He refuses to tattle; he’s been taught that tattling is wrong. Things only worsen and Jack gets sadder. Jack’s parents have a chat with the school principal and the issue of bullying and discrimination is discussed.

Mark M. Bello’s picture book, Happy Jack Sad Jack: A Bullying Story, is a tender, somewhat troubling story that addresses the growing issue of bullying and discrimination in schools. This is something that intensifies as children become adults and continue their bullying practices in the adult world. Told in rhyming verse and with simple, but poignantly colorful illustrations, the plot follows Jack’s progression from being a happy little boy to a sad one. Young readers will be cheering Jack along as he confronts the bully, urging Jack to speak up even if it is tattling. As the plot resolves, the school principal sums up what we all need to recognize wherever we go: “There’s one thing in common we all have in this place./ We are all valued members of this human race.” This is a beautiful, heartwarming story about a very difficult and troubling issue in our society.

Sheena Monnin

Happy Jack Sad Jack: A Bullying Story by Mark M. Bello is an uplifting tale about a little boy overcoming a bully by being respectful and eventually being honest with his family about the situation. Written in poetic phrases, the story is engaging and shows the reader how an unkind action can drastically impact the victim's happiness and well-being. The story is set in a school that little Jack is initially excited to attend. The school bully makes life unpleasant and is mean to him, even pushing him to the ground and causing him to get hurt. At first, Jack does not say anything but when his parents and the principal ask about it, he decides to be honest with his family. The matter is resolved but there is no going back and undoing what has been done. Children learn a valuable lesson on the importance of being kind to all their fellow humans.

Happy Jack Sad Jack by Mark M. Bello is written with a kind and wise hand. The author communicates on a level children will be able to connect with. He takes the young reader on a journey with Jack from his being a happy main character to the end when he has learned to move on from being bullied. I appreciate the way the illustrations complement the storyline and give an added dimension to the expressions of each character as Jack journeys through his school experiences. The author does a great job of capturing life from Jack's perspective and provides an excellent example for both parents and children.

Jon Michael Miller

Happy Jack, Sad Jack: A Bullying Story written by Mark M. Bello and exquisitely illustrated by Melinda Taliancich Falgoust is a teaching story about a little boy Jack, who is of mixed race, his mother white, his father black. He goes to school on the first day, and in the playground, a white boy pushes him down and hurts his knee at recess. Jack is scared to tell his parents because he was taught not to tattle, but eventually, the truth comes out and his parents, along with the principal of the school, begin working things out. The story is written in cleverly rhymed couplets and Falgoust’s illustrations are beautifully done, especially in representing various shades of skin color.

Mark M. Bello, an attorney and an author of a mystery series, does an insightful and empathetic job in showing little Jack’s pain and his dilemma in not reporting it immediately. Most kids will be able to relate on both counts, but there’s a message in the book for parents too on how to deal with the problem of a bullied child. Besides the bullying theme, Bello adds the overall issue of racism and mixed race. There is an opportunity for vocabulary enhancement with words such as “counseled,” “moaned,” and “demanded.” As a little bonus, on three successive pages, there is a clock on the wall with different times on each image - a great opportunity to teach standard time-telling. Bello says he wrote this book for his nine grandchildren and I am looking forward to purchasing a few copies of my own.

Asher Syed

Happy Jack Sad Jack: A Bullying Story by Mark M. Bello is a children's picture book that revolves around a little boy named Jack who finds himself being bullied during his first days at school. Jack is described as being perpetually happy, and starting kindergarten is something he was looking forward to. Jack comes from a mixed-race household with a black father and a white mother. He is well adjusted and loved. On his very first day of school, Jack is bullied by another student who pushes him to the ground twice, where his clothing rips, and his exposed knee is injured and bleeding. Jack tells nobody and lies about the injury because his parents have failed to teach him the difference between seeking help in a dangerous situation and being a tattle-tale, while his teacher seems wholly oblivious to the possibility that a crying child might also be afraid. Eventually, as the bullying escalates, Jack does seek help, and an intervention is initiated to make Jack feel welcome and safe.

As a husband and parent in a mixed-race marriage, I understand the impact of racism that children are frequently met with when they live in an area that isn't diverse. Mark M. Bello touches on this in a simplified way in Happy Jack Sad Jack. The narrative is in slant rhyme that is occasionally on the bumpy side but is still a nice little lyrical means of conveying the message. The illustrations by Melinda Taliancich Falgoust have the childlike appearance of being sketched and colored in with crayons by a young narrator, which is cute. Racism is difficult to tackle and this is compounded when it involves physical assault. I think Bello has done as well in conveying the message to our children. Recommended.