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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Panda That Learned To Ignore is a social issues-themed picture book for children written by Samuel E. Pierre and illustrated by Lauren Isabelle Pierre. Cuddles was having some problems fitting in with the other kids in his school. He and his parents were from China and were new to America. Cuddles ate bamboo, and the other kids liked to tease him about it. The teasing made Cuddles feel bad about himself and about going to school at all. His parents knew something was upsetting him, but Cuddles was trying to handle it on his own. Finally, he confided in his parents about the bullying that was going on in school. Cuddles’ dad could understand how he was feeling, because his dad had been called names by others when he was a kid. And Dad had a solution that had worked for him, which he shared with Cuddles. The next day, Cuddles was ready for anything that happened.
Samuel E. Pierre’s social issues-themed picture book for children, The Panda That Learned To Ignore, gives kids a tool for dealing with bullies while also showing that reacting with kindness and generosity may be the best way of fitting in with others. Being different can be the bane of a young child’s existence. Most kids want to feel they belong so badly that even minor things can seem like major differences. Cuddles’ diet is one of those issues, but it could also be a child’s allergy to peanuts or need to wear glasses that gets used by a bully to torment and make a child feel different. I loved the spirit of warmth and forgiveness that pervades this book and makes the ending so perfect. Lauren Isabelle Pierre’s illustrations are marvelous! I particularly enjoyed the facial expressions she gives to Cuddles, his parents and the class bully. Each panel is brilliantly colored and works so well with the text. This book is a grand selection for story hour, but it’s also perfect as a primer for a new reader. The Panda That Learned To Ignore is most highly recommended.