Desmond and the Very Mean Word

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Desmond and the Very Mean Word
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Genre(s)
Age Range
6+
Release Date
December 03, 2012
ISBN
978-0763652296
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Based on a true story from Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s childhood in South Africa, Desmond and the Very Mean Word reveals the power of words and the secret of forgiveness. When Desmond takes his new bicycle out for a ride through his neighborhood, his pride and joy turn to hurt and anger when a group of boys shout a very mean word at him. He first responds by shouting an insult, but soon discovers that fighting back with mean words doesn’t make him feel any better. With the help of kindly Father Trevor, Desmond comes to understand his conflicted feelings and see that all people deserve compassion, whether or not they say they are sorry. Brought to vivid life in A. G. Ford’s energetic illustrations, this heartfelt, relatable story conveys timeless wisdom about how to handle bullying and angry feelings, while seeing the good in everyone.

Editor review

1 review
Powerful and Heart-Warming!
(Updated: April 08, 2013)
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
This is one of those books that you find yourself thinking about long after you read it. This book is based on the real life experiences of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I read through this book first, before reading it through with my children. I wanted to make sure that the topic of the book (calling someone a very mean word) would not go over my children's heads. It does not. The book does an incredible job of making it known that Desmond was called a very mean word, but it does not go into detail as to what that word was. I really appreciated that aspect of the story because that makes it very easy to start a discussion on mean words in general, and not just specific ones.

Not only does this book do a great job of bringing to life how mean we can be to each other, it does an even better job of making forgiveness the center of the story. Desmond has to make the choice to forgive the mean boys. Desmond realizes that only he can forgive them, otherwise he will be upset and call them a name, and the entire process will just keep going.

As a mother, I truly appreciated how well the book focuses on saying mean things, and then forgiveness. What a wonderful discussion I was able to have with my children afterwards. What a great way to remember how our words can hurt others, and how even if we say them, saying "I'm sorry" can go a long way! I highly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with this issue, or knows of someone who is.
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