"Some shadows are big, some shadows are small, but what if your shadow was no fun at all?"
This colorful picture book features the lovable little ant and his discovery that his own shadow is a bully. When the ant sees his shadow misbehaving, he does everything in his power to end the friendship. But nothing seems to work until he stops running and starts listening! In the end, they work together to make things better for everyone. This is a story of friendship, kindness, and understanding. This is the fifth book in the Little Ant series.
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I never thought that I would write a book about bullying. But here I am, giving this hot topic some attention!
So, not long ago, my son was coming home from school every day saying that his friend was being mean to him. And it was true—his friend was being a bully! He would tease him and push him around, and exclude him from different activities. But then he would be nice and fun and thoughtful. It was so confusing! As a mom, I wanted to advise him to "Just stay away from anyone who's mean to you," but that blanket statement wasn't going to work here. This child clearly had something positive to offer my kid, and was actually a good friend...most of the time!
So, I had to put my protective "momma bear feelings" aside and really think about the situation.
Would anybody really wake up in the morning and say, "I want to be a bully today?" (Okay, maybe somebody out there would!) But I think most children are just trying to figure it all out. Rules at school. Rules at home. Complex social situations. Emotional control. Conflict resolution. Hands to yourself. Sharing and caring. Be nice. Do your homework. Messages! Messages! Messages! And I started to wonder—maybe some of these "bullies" were just kids who had trouble handling their emotions, or at least handling their everyday problems! And if they didn't have the right coping skills, wouldn't their frustration just spill out onto the world around them, i.e., my kid? Too deep? Probably... But once I stepped back and looked at the situation objectively, I started to have a little compassion and understanding. I mean, we're all human, right?
So, that's where my book comes in. This is a story of friendship, understanding, and kindness. And even tolerance. The ant discovers that his shadow is a bully, and tries to first outrun him and then physically remove him from his space. These are all techniques that I would've tried as a kid—to get rid of my own bully. But sometimes, you can't outrun (or out-bully!) a bully. So, you hit the pause button and try to understand things, so you can make the best of a bad situation. Maybe you can even discover a reason behind their behavior. It doesn't excuse it, but it certainly would explain it!
As you can imagine, this was a complex book to write with so many underlying messages. My most important message is one of kindness. I hope this book inspires children to be kind to one another and to really do what they can to make this world a better place!
My son loves to hand out flowers to everyone in town.
Get a sneak peek at my book Little Ant & the Shadow Bully.
Ilene Dudek is an award-winning author and illustrator from Nutley, NJ. In 2017, she began writing her Little Ant children's series. Since then, she has completed six books in the series. All six books have been featured in the 2020-2021 preschool art program at Lovlee Art Studios in Bloomfield, NJ. Her new book Little Ant & the Epic Battle received the 2020 Royal Dragonfly Book Award—earning honorable mention in the Picture Books 6 & Older category. It was also recognized by the state of Illinois as a valuable COVID-19 resource for families with young children. It sits alongside recommendations from the CDC and UNICEF as a resource for understanding the pandemic. Ilene has participated in over 50 local author events, including a book signing at Barnes & Noble, and has been featured on "Spotlight New Jersey" — News 12 New Jersey and in Jersey's Best magazine. Ilene was also the guest speaker at a 2020 Nutley Rotary luncheon and on the 16W with Norman podcast. In the future, Ilene hopes to continue writing her Little Ant series and sharing her books with the local community.