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Cynically Sweet (Booklikes)

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Secret Friends

Secret Friends - Lynn Landes Bella is a pegasus who goes to school. She is regularly bullied by her class mates. They pick on her because she can't fly. In school, they ruin her art and after school, they throw rotten fruit at her. She soon meets Max, a dragon. Though they have become friends, they have to keep their friendship a secret because pegasus and dragons don't like each other.

A few days ago, I purchased this book from Amazon.com.au for kindle. It was free and I thought it might be an amusing read. For a child, I reckon that the book is fine, though I don't think that some of the plot works well together. It keeps on skipping around and I don't think that the author really knows what messages are appropriate for children. I'll explain further. I know that the whole book is title and about Bella and Max being "Secret Friends", but it just seems like it does not teach the right message for children. Essentially, Max explains to Bella that no-one is allowed to know about their friendship because dragons and pegasus are enemies. Even Max's father does not approve of them being friends. Now, I know it's just a book for kids, but I think that it's kind of encouraging the idea that children should have secret friendships with complete strangers and not telling adults/ family members.

The other point I'd like to make in the same light is that it has a lot of strong comments about bullying. Bella is being targeted by bullies, supposedly because she can't fly. Though we don't see much of her, she tells people that she's told adults about it before and they have done nothing. To combat this, Bella's parents essentially go and get the teacher fired, replacing her with someone more appropriate because bullying is not okay. Well, I agree that bullying is not okay, but I don't think it's okay to oust someone from their job just because your child is being bullied. There are far more reasonable ways to deal with the situation and it sends completely the wrong message. I know that this is supposed to mimic real life, but the way they deal with the problem is completely unreasonable and is setting unusually high expectations for dealing with problems. I don't think it is okay to be bullied and I had to deal with such things in my school years as well, but getting someone fired is no way to fix the problem.

Maybe kids would like the book because they are a little bit more innocent and ignorant to real life problems... However, I would not read this to a child of my own for the reasons above. Two stars because it had a decent premise, but is not fulfilled very well. The situations presented are based on real life, but the messages that the book is sending are inappropriate. That, however, is just my opinion.