Not So Bad After All written by Daniel Amaguana and illustrated by Nabi Bilal is a story about a young boy who gets constantly teased by other children. Throughout the book, Daniel expresses his emotions of being teased but in the end, realizes that he loves the way he is and doesn’t want to change.
I enjoyed how the author embeds different emotions into the story and creates a positive light on how to react to difficult situations. For example, what does Daniel do when his words get jumbled together? He slows down and tries to speak more clearly. Sometimes he gets scared to raise his hand in math but decides to take a chance and try anyway despite his fear.
Daniel is a sweet and likable character that children can relate to well. I like that the book presents a growth mindset and helps provide strategies when getting teased by other children. Daniel endures teasing but instead of getting down, he decides to be positive which is an excellent model for children. What makes this book even more authentic is that the author himself was bullied throughout his childhood. He discusses below how he turned his darkest moments into teachable experiences for children.
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Interview with Daniel Amaguana
Daniel Amaguana is the co-founder of Pandas Karate Inc., which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. He is a 5th-degree black belt, granting him the title “master.” Currently, he travels around the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area conducting talks about entrepreneurship and anti-bullying. He also is the host of a podcast that helps parents get tips on how to deal with bullying. Every page of Not So Bad After All represents actual events that Daniel dealt with as a kid while trying to navigate his way through school and adolescence.
1. What was the inspiration behind Not Bad at All?
The story is based on my real-life experiences navigating through adolescence and bullying. Going to school was tough especially when I was made fun of by the way I walked, talked, clothes I wore, and even how I tried to speak Spanish. I took some of my darkest moments and turned them into teachable moments.
2. What would you like children to learn from your book?
I hope children find a page that resonates with them and creates an open dialog at home to create teachable moments. With schools reopening across the country it can be a little nerve-racking. This book may also provide some comfort to kids that are dealing with the same insecurities that I had felt growing up.
3. Can you talk about your background with bullying and how that influenced your writing?
I was bullied from 4th-11th grade in public schools. Fortunately, I had a great support system of teachers, counselors, and family members who helped me through those tough times. In 2010 I created an anti-bullying program called Sticks & Stones that encourages kids to stand up to a bully without physical violence. It has been featured in several schools, libraries, and local news outlets such as NBC4.
4. Any good carryover tips for parents when reading this book?
Every page is a real moment in my life, but it may be something you have dealt with as well. Feel free to add your own experiences in the book before turning a page. One time a parent shared with me that their child stopped them on one of the pages and said “Dad, this happened to me the other day.” He thanked me so much for writing a powerful book that gave his son a safe space to be open with him.