Wednesday, October 19, 2011

That Bunny Is a Bully!

Book Review: Sarah O’Hara – Gift of the Fairy Wings written by Penny Holguin
There’s something I don’t find myself saying every day: that bunny is a bully! But “little girl” bunny Sarah in Penny Holguin’s Sarah O’Hara – Gift of the Fairy Wings is a bully and then some. On her sixth birthday, Sarah receives a pair of green fairy wings. According to her bunny mom, Sarah wanted these wings to complete her fairy princess Halloween costume, and (at first) Sarah is thrilled to have them. But the reader immediately gets clues that Sarah is a bit thoughtless. She takes the wings to school and when another bunny girl, Angela, asks to try on the wings, Sarah answers, “No Angela, you’re not a princess. Princesses don’t wear shabby clothes.” Ouch. The other bunny kids laugh and Angela bursts into tears.

When Sarah’s wings are almost ruined after an accident, Angela offers to help. Again, Sarah is obnoxious to her. Sarah doesn’t want the wings anymore and prefers to sulk. Angela wears the wings herself as part of her own Halloween costume and wins a prize that she graciously offers to share with Sarah. Sarah is shocked, confused, then shamed into assessing her own bad behavior and chooses to change for the better. Sarah acknowledges the simple truth that Angela is the real princess. This is a Halloween story with year ’round appeal.

This isn’t a story I’d classify as sweet or adorable. The subject matter is too important and the characters are all too real. I can imagine this book as a script for a short film acted by real kids. The bullying, the sulking, the selfishness, and the thoughtlessness of the Sarah character are all too recognizable. The forgiveness and innate graciousness of the Angela character are almost too good to be true, but it is in the fullness of Angela’s spirit and in her downright classiness that Sarah learns her lesson. You don’t have to twist yourself into a pretzel to find the useful metaphor here. The message is clear and intact.

Children over the age of six are old enough to understand what it means to be a bully and can choose to be better people (or children). That’s where the sweetness of this book lies: in the hoped-for effect it can have on kids. If it gets kids to thinking about their own part in the culture of bullying, not to mention in self-defeating habits like sulking, then it has done a service to the next generation. It would be great if our high schools didn’t have to enforce the idea of being “bully-free zones,” and perhaps books like Sarah O’Hara – Gift of the Fairy Wings can help raise the next crop of teens as people who see things a bit differently.

And author Penny Holguin puts her money where her mouth is. Her goal is to donate 1000 books to organizations for distribution by Christmas, so for each book she sells, she’s donating one. Find out more at the Sarah O’Hara website.

We’re giving away a personally autographed copy of Sarah O’Hara – Gift of the Fairy Wings. Just leave a comment below with a way to reach you (email preferred) or simply visit our Facebook Fan Page to qualify for our drawing. The deadline is 5pm E.S.T., October 31, 2011, better known as Halloween. Our Giveaway Rules apply.


  1. Sounds like a great book. We love to read to our daughter and at the age of 3.5 she's very receptive to a story's characters and content. I've no doubt she would learn from this one and understand the book's message.

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