Free Spirit Publishing 1.800.735.7323


A Story About How to Stop Bullying in Schools

illustrated by Paula Heaphy

Sam is concerned about keeping things orderly and “cool” at school. She thinks people need to have a tough skin in order to fit in and withstand others’ meanness and lack of cooperation. Sam teases her free-spirited classmate Luisa and enlists a friend, Jayla, to help. But when Sam is confronted by a concerned teacher about her bullying, and Jayla turns on Sam and befriends Luisa, Sam begins to show some heart and rethink her treatment of others.

The three books in the Weird series tell the story of an ongoing case of kids bullying from three third graders’ perspectives. The books may be read separately or as a set; readers will enjoy tracking small details that carry over from one book to another. These books on bullying each conclude with “activity club” pages for kids, as well as information to help parents, teachers, counselors, and other adults reinforce the books’ messages and foster dialogue with children.

Part of Bully Free Kids®
Free Spirit Publishing’s innovative line of bullying prevention resources just for kids.

Read More


Paperback $9.99 24385 Paperback 24385 $9.99

View where you can purchase the eBook.

PB ISBN: 978-1-57542-438-5
Reading Level: Grade 2
Interest Level: Ages 5–9
Guided Reading Level: M
Lexile Measure: 470L
Illustrated: color illust.
Trim Size: 9.5" x 8"
Page Count: 48

Praise for Tough!
“A wonderful, wonderful book about the power of caring and love to turn a life around.”—

“Heaphy’s pen-and-ink illustrations are dotted with highlights of color that spotlight the main characters. She is a master of facial expression and body language; Sam’s hoodie sweatshirt speaks volumes all on its own.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Attractively illustrated and colorfully presented, with helpful notes at the end.”—Midwest Book Review: Children’s Bookwatch, Reviewer’s Choice

Praise for the series
“The Weird series encourages children that are being bullied to stand up for themselves . . . bystanders to act when they see something bad happening . . . [and] children who are bullying others to reassess their actions and motivations.”—The Children’s Book Review

“Three stories told from the perspectives of three different children: one who is bullied (Weird!), a bystander (Dare!), and the bully herself (Tough!) . . . The books stand alone as separate titles, but they’re much more effective when utilized together to give a complete view of how the main characters are feeling and the outside events that help shape their roles.”—School Library Journal

“AMAZING and EMPOWERING—the books in the Weird series are absolutely out of this world! They’re my favorite books on bullying by far.”—Roxanne Davidson, school counselor, Books That Heal Kids blog

“The wonderful books in the Weird series are great resources to help build young children’s social skills to address and prevent bullying.”—Trudy Ludwig, children’s advocate and best-selling author of Confessions of a Former Bully

“The Weird series is a delightful three-part story that explores the roles of the bully, the bullied, and the bystander and how children can break out of those roles and be their unique, caring selves. Not only for kids, this series is a must for parents, educators, and caregivers who want to help children end the cycle of cruelty.”—Barbara Coloroso, author of The Bully, the Bullied, and the Not-So-Innocent Bystander

“All three books would be good read-alouds for an anti-bullying program.”—

“I did a three-part lesson using the Weird series with our fourth-grade class and they loved it! You could hear a pin drop while I was reading (which is rare!) and the kids really looked forward to the lesson each week with a new character to discuss. They even created artwork based on the books. Thank you so much for this wonderful series. I can’t wait to use this in the rest of our classrooms. We are a K–8 charter school and I can see the relevance for every grade level!”—Meagan Schultz, school counselor, Milwaukee College Prep

“My kids and I loved the Weird series . . . the books were incredibly insightful and provoked good discussion. Well written by Erin Frankel, beautifully illustrated by Paula Heaphy, and published by the always inspiring Free Spirit Publishing, [this series] is a must-own for educators, if not parents.”—Melissa Taylor, Imagination Soup

“In these engaging books, Frankel helps readers deal with bullying events that happen every day in every school; while Heaphy perfectly illustrates the facial expressions and body language of all three roles—the child bullying, the witness, and the target. Frankel and Heaphy are a new dynamic duo!”—CJ Bott, author of The Bully in the Book and in the Classroom and More Bullies in More Books

“I love this series. Kids are sure to empathize with the characters and recognize their own power to stop bullying.”—Dr. Michele Borba, internationally recognized child expert and author of The 6Rs of Bullying Prevention

Help young readers get the most out of the Weird series.

  • Common Core State Standards


  • ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success

    MS.1, MS.2, MS.3, MS.6
    BS.LS.1, BS.LS.9
    BS.SMS.1, BS.SMS.2, BS.SMS.6, BS.SMS.7, BS.SMS.9
    BS.SS.1, BS.SS.2, BS.SS.3, BS.SS.4, BS.SS.5, BS.SS.6, BS.SS.7, BS.SS.8, BS.SS.9

Related Resources

Why Should I?
Zach learns how to be an upstander and finds his courage using his stand-up-to-bullying STAR.
Feeling Angry
I Don’t Want to Be Nice!
Zach learns a strategy for dealing with frustration when things aren’t going his way.

Free Spirit’s monthly e-newsletter, Upbeat News, is full of practical tips, free downloads, and special offers. Sign up today!