I Am Not Dumb and I Am Not a Stinky Butt! by Joyce Knock is a spirited children’s story about one boy who’s taken a bit too much from a particular bully. A boy is teased by the class bully, Freddy, when he answers a question wrong in class (Freddy calls him “stupid”) and then when he falls down on the playground (he’s called “crybaby”), and then he’s called the name in the title. Finally having enough, he confronts Freddy in class and all the other kids offer their support, silencing the bully. It’s a sweet and important story, in which all proceeds go to charity.
Interestingly the book is told in the first person, which is rare for a book aimed at this age group – 4 to 5-years-old. One unfortunate weakness in the book is the quality of the illustrations. For instance, Freddy, the bully, has the same picture every time he’s mentioned. The illustrations are supposed to have been drawn by the narrator, but the illustrations don’t quite have that childlike scrawl. As young children are very visual, the moral of the tale would have a lot more impact with bright and more-detailed illustrations.
However, the message of the book is such a good one that it transcends some of these deficiencies. As Knock makes clear in her afterword, teasing through name calling is an epidemic and it’s “not a rite of passage.” Words hurt, and any child who’s ever been affected by bullying of any sort, or even bullies themselves, will get a good lesson from this book’s core message.